KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals whipped out the same formula that carried them to last year's World Series to turn back the Astros and tie their AL Division Series at a game apiece:
Clutch hitting. Stingy defense. An unflappable bullpen.
Even a little help from replay.
"Just battling," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "That's what this team does so well."
The Royals rallied from a three-run deficit Friday, getting a go-ahead single from former Ray Ben Zobrist in the seventh inning, then watching former Ray Wade Davis and the bullpen make the lead stand in a 5-4 victory that evoked their nip-and-tuck postseason of a year ago.
The Royals tied it at 4 off former Ray Scott Kazmir and relievers Oliver Perez and Josh Fields in the sixth. Kansas City took the lead in the seventh when Alcides Escobar led off with a triple against Will Harris and Zobrist singled through the left side.
Davis closed it out, though not without drama.
Davis walked former Plant High and Gator standout Preston Tucker with one out, and speedy Carlos Gomez went in as a pinch-runner. Davis snapped a throw to Hosmer at first, and Hosmer snagged the ball on one hop as Gomez dived back to the bag. Gomez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon review.
"That play that 'Hos' made on the pickoff, I don't know if there's a lot of first basemen that can make that play," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It was tremendous."
Jose Altuve then grounded out to end the inning.
It was a crucial victory considering what awaits Kansas City in Game 3 on Sunday: Cy Young Award candidate Dallas Keuchel. Edinson Volquez will start for Kansas City.
"We were in position to win that game. Their bullpen did a very good job of shutting us down," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We've got some work to do to win this series. It's going to be a good series."
Two starters acquired with October in mind, Kazmir and Royals counterpart Johnny Cueto, pitched mostly to a stalemate, which meant the outcome hinged on the bullpens. Kansas City's relief corps was better, preserving the first win by a home team this postseason. "They compete," said Salvador Perez, who homered for the Royals. "Pretty good stuff."
Colby Rasmus homered and doubled for Houston, becoming the first player in history with an extra-base hit in his first six postseason games.