(Reuters) – It turns out the Houston Astros just needed a change of scenery to breathe new life into the World Series.
Houston were punched in the gut during the first two games at home and walked away empty-handed despite having their two aces on the mound but responded with a win over the Washington Nationals on Friday to cut the best-of-seven deficit to 2-1.
“We had something happen in Houston that doesn’t happen very often, a team came in and beat us back-to-back against two of our big boys,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said after their 4-1 Game Three victory.
“So coming to a new venue, certainly in an unbelievable environment today, I think getting back into this series and putting a little bit of momentum in our clubhouse and our dugout will go a long way.”
The Astros needed no reminder of what was at stake on Friday having been asked at every turn about the importance of Game Three given that none of the 24 teams to fall behind 3-0 in a World Series have rallied back to win.
Houston, who entered the postseason as the consensus choice to win it all, suddenly looked more like the team that dominated the regular season with key pitches and a steady presence on the basepaths and capitalizing their opportunities.
“I just liked the competitiveness of our at-bats,” said Hinch. “We were kind of pretty focused on handing the baton to the next guy, which is really important. We’re at our best when we do that.”
Michael Brantley drove in a pair of runs for Houston on a night when Astros’ starting pitcher Zack Greinke allowed seven hits, three walks and one run in 4-2/3 innings.
Houston will turn the ball over to Jose Urquidy for Game Four on Saturday.
“Obviously we used a lot of resources tonight but this is the World Series were are going to keep going at it,” said Hinch.
“Jose Urquidy’s been really good for us. He’s started a little bit, he’s been in the pen. We are going to turn the ball over to him in the first inning and give him an opportunity to go as deep as he can.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)