Astros Tease, Thrill Fans In Walk-Off Win
Houston Scores In 9th And 12th In Comeback

Correa starts celebration
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Hunter Dozier lined a three-run homer into the right field seats in the fourth inning against Lance McCullers. The Astros spent the rest of the Saturday evening contest trying to catch up which did not happen until the bottom of the ninth. Then Houston loaded the bases in the 12th where cleanup hitter Carlos Correa slapped one through the drawn-in outfield as the reigning champs notched a wild 4-3 walk-off winner before a regional Fox audience to stay 3-1/2 games ahead of Seattle in the AL West chase.

The Astros answered Dozier's homer in their half of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Correa and a solo homer by Yuli Gurriel on his bobblehead night. It's just the third homer all year for Sideshow Yuli and this one made the first row of the Crawfords on a line drive (translation: that stays in the park at any other MLB stadium). The Cuban import still bats at a .300 clip and his driven in 32 runs despite injury woes but one must question Gurriel's home run power after muscling 18 dingers last season.

Houston couldn't push across the tying run during the next four innings but Gurriel got the home fans stirred with a base hit in the ninth against Brandon Maurer. Josh Reddick poked a single to short center which sent pinch-runner Jake Marisnick to third. Next, Evan Gattis rapped a sinking liner to left which Alex Gordon made a diving stab for the second out but the prone outfielder had no chance to catch Marisnick who had tagged and dashed home with the tying run as most of the 40,028 in attendance let out a giant exhale.

Collin McHugh wishes he could be back in the starting rotation but, in the meantime, he's making a nice career for himself as a bullpen vulture - the guy who happens to be the hurler when the Astros score a late winning run. McHugh tossed a scoreless 12th after Brad Peacock, Tony Sipp, Will Harris and Chris Devenski followed McCullers to fire six innings of one-hit ball.

George Springer started the 12th with a base on balls against the aptly-named Justin Grimm. Alex Bregman, who had an unusually quiet evening at the plate, popped up behind first base that neither Dozier nor two other fielders seemed to locate before it fell safely in short right. Second baseman Ryan Goins picked it up and made an awkward throw back into the infield that allowed Springer to third and Bregman to second. Jose Altuve was intentionally walked to fill the sacks with nobody out.

That's when Correa ended the almost four-hour ordeal by smashing a 1-1 fastball into the right-center hole as Springer rushed home with the game-winner. The 51-27 Astros got a small measure of revenge for the 2015 playoffs.

The season series concludes Sunday afternoon when Jason Hammel (2-8) matches up against Gerrit Cole (8-1) in the 1:10 pm Central finale. The 35-year-old righthander is 2-2 with a 2.85 ERA in nine appearances against Houston during his career.

- Bob Hulsey