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History shows 3-1 hole a steep climb for Mets

The Royals' eighth-inning rally on Saturday night at Citi Field lifted them to a 5-3 victory over the Mets in Game 4 of the World Series. Instead of facing a 2-2 tie, Kansas City now holds a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series going into Sunday night's Game 5 (game time 8 p.m. ET on FOX).

The Royals, one win away from their first World Series championship since 1985, became the 81st team to jump ahead 3-1 in a best-of-seven postseason series. Of the previous 80 clubs, 68 (or 85 percent) went on to victory, which includes Kansas City in this year's American League Championship Series against Toronto. In best-of-seven World Series, teams that led 3-1 have won 38 out of 43 times, or 88.4 percent.

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Of course, the Mets are not out of it yet, even if their chances took a huge hit on Halloween night. As recently as 2012, a team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. That was the Giants, who pulled off the feat against the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series before knocking off the Tigers in the Fall Classic.

Before that, it was the 2003 Marlins who fell behind the Cubs, 3-1, in the NLCS. Like the Mets now, the Marlins didn't even have home-field advantage in their favor, but they took Game 5 in Miami, then Games 6 and 7 at Wrigley Field on their way to a pennant.

As far as 3-1 deficits in the World Series go, longtime Royals supporters will know not to get too cocky. After all, it was in 1985 that Kansas City became the most recent team to climb out of such a hole. In a mirror image of this Fall Classic, the Royals trailed 2-0, and then 3-1. But they came back to beat the Cards in Game 5 at Busch Stadium before completing the rally at home.

Of the five teams to win a best-of-seven World Series after falling behind 3-1, three did so without the benefit of home-field advantage. The 1979 Pirates, '68 Tigers and '58 Yankees all finished off their comebacks by capturing Games 6 and 7 in hostile territory, as the Mets would have to do at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Royals also are the 43rd team to win Game 4 to go ahead 3-1. Of the previous 42, 35 have gone on to a championship, including each of the past three (2010 Giants, '09 Yankees, '08 Phillies). The Giants and Phils both won it in Game 5, while the Yanks waited until Game 6.

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While this year's ALCS was the first time the Royals have led 3-1, in a best-of-seven series, the Mets have trailed by that margin twice, in the 1999 NLCS and the 2000 World Series. They lost both times, in six and five games, respectively.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.
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