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ATLANTA -- "I can't say enough about our bullpen," Braves manager Brian Snitker said after their Game 4 victory. "My God, I'm going to talk to ownership and send them all to Hawaii for a week when we're done."

The Braves bullpen had been brilliant pretty much all postseason, protecting so many close leads in tenuous situations. They kept Game 4 close enough for a late offensive comeback that resulted in a commanding 3-1 lead in the World Series. 

Through four games, the story for Houston was missed opportunities. The Astros were 4 for 32 with runners in scoring position and had left 32 runners on base. It was a true testament to how well the Braves had pitched, and that's with really only two starters left in Max Fried and Ian Anderson, as Charlie Morton broke his leg and had to leave Game 1 early. 

In the Astros' Game 5 win, the bend-but-don't-break ways of previous games in the series broke.

Spotted a 4-0 lead in the first inning on Adam Duvall's grand slam, the Astros' offense started chipping away immediately. Alex Bregman, who had been awful in the series and dropped to the seven hole on Sunday, got an RBI double with the Astros' first chance with a runner in scoring position. Then with runners on second and third and one out, Martin Maldonado hit a sac fly. It wasn't a hit, but a productive out nonetheless. 

In the third, two runners reach with no out and Snitker summoned his bullpen in the form of righty Jesse Chavez. He coughed up an RBI double to Carlos Correa that also enabled the Astros to tie the game on the following groundout. 

The Braves had a 5-4 lead heading to the fifth with lefty A.J. Minter, who had been nails in the postseason to this point: sporting a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings with 16 strikeouts. He gave up a pair of singles and then with first base open the Braves correctly opted to walk Bregman to get to light-hitting catcher Maldonado. But Minter walked him on five pitches. Maldonado even flashed bunt on the 3-1 pitch, a tell-tale sign he was taking all the way. Then pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez singled home two to give the Astros their first lead. 

Maldonado then singled home Kyle Tucker in the seventh. 

The Astros went 5 for 15 with runners in scoring position, good for a .333 average. They also had two productive outs that scored runs. They did strand nine runners, but they scored nine runs and that's actually a great ratio. It's a hell of a lot better than 32 runners stranded and 11 scoring, which is what they did through four games this series. 

It was the first crack in the armor of the Braves' bullpen in the Fall Classic.

The good news for the Braves is they still have a 3-2 lead in the series and that Max Fried is on extra rest. He pitched a lot better than his line showed in Game 2. He got hit some, sure, but in the Astros' big inning, much of the traffic on base came via seeing-eye singles. He got stronger as he went and retired 10 in a row after the four-run second inning. 

The good news for the Astros is they get to go back home and their bats have awakened. When they are on, such as we saw in Game 5, they are an incredibly dangerous group. 

Looks like we've got a series after all. 

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