HOUSTON -- Almost out of time and out of the playoffs, the Kansas City Royals realized they needed more than a big home run. They needed a lot of hits -- and maybe a little help too.
The defending American League champions saved their season Monday. They took advantage when Astros shortstop Carlos Correa couldn't handle a deflected grounder that might have been a double-play ball, and they rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to beat Houston 9-6 and force their playoff series to a decisive Game 5.
"We always feel that we're still in games, and we still have a chance,'' first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "That's the mentality for this whole entire team. It's never quit, and the character we showed today, that's what a championship ballclub does."
Correa homered twice, doubled, singled and drove in four runs in Game 4 of the AL Division Series. Houston took a 6-2 lead into the eighth, but a tough error charged to the 21-year-old rookie keyed the Royals' comeback to even the matchup at two games apiece.
"I missed it. That's what happened," Correa said. "I wish I was perfect. I wish I could do everything perfect, but I'm not. I'm human."
"Everyone that watched that game, everybody that was a part of that game knows how difficult it is to feel like that game was closing in our favor and then have it not go our way,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "But it's big-boy sport. We'll adjust, and we will be ready to play."
Late in the game, a tweet from the account of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott congratulated the Astros on advancing to the AL Championship Series. Abbott later tweeted from his personal account: "No predictions. Just support.''
"Obviously, we're pretty late in the game right there and down by four, so not one guy can get us back in this game," Hosmer said. "So we got to do whatever we can to keep the line moving."
Kendrys Morales followed with a hard one-bouncer off Sipp's glove. The ball took two more hops, got past the top of Correa's mitt and rolled into center field as two runs scored to tie the game at six runs apiece.
"Just a weird spin on the ball and tough play,'' Sipp said. "I'm sure it was tougher than it looked. Game of inches, and I barely missed it.''
Monday marked the second time in franchise history that Kansas City rallied from a four-run deficit after seven innings to win a postseason game. Last year, the Royals trailed Oakland 7-3 in the eighth inning of their AL wild-card game before eventually winning in the 12th.
"I felt real confident that we were going to make a game out of it,'' manager Ned Yost said. "I just felt that the bats were going to come alive, and they really did in the eighth inning. I mean, really did.''
Ryan Madson (1-0) gave up two home runs in the seventh and still got the win. Wade Davis pitched two scoreless innings for his second save. It was the third time he has pitched two innings in the postseason; he did so twice last year.
Sipp took the loss.
Plunked by Yordano Ventura his first time up, Correa answered with a solo homer to tie it in the third. He put Houston on top with an RBI double in the fifth and became the youngest player in AL playoff history with a multi-homer game with a two-run shot off Ryan Madson in the seventh, which gave the Astros a 6-2 lead.
At 21 years, 20 days old, Correa became the youngest player in Astros franchise history to homer in the playoffs and the youngest MLB shortstop and sixth-youngest player overall to do so in the postseason.
Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer in the second to give the Royals an early lead. But Houston starter Lance McCullers retired 15 of the next 18 batters before leaving after hitting Perez with a pitch with one out in the seventh.
Rasmus, who homered in the Astros' AL wild-card win over the Yankees, hit his third home run of the ALDS when he followed Correa's second shot with a home run off the foul pole in right field in the seventh.
GLAD HE'S OK
Two pitches before his home run, Perez fouled a ball down the first-base line into the stands, and it struck a young boy. Perez looked concerned and took a second to get back in the box. Later, a team official said the boy was fine after being treated by first aid staff at the ballpark.