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Whit delivers with double in crucial 4-run 8th

Tying hit sets stage for Royals' dramatic walk-off win in 9th
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- The heroics of Mike Moustakas' walk-off, two-run homer in the ninth inning of the Royals' 9-7 win on Tuesday night likely never would have happened without a dramatic four-run rally against the Astros' vaunted bullpen in the eighth.

Down 7-3, the Royals erupted for four runs, three coming home on Whit Merrifield's clutch double into the left-field corner off closer Ken Giles that tied it at 7.

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KANSAS CITY -- The heroics of Mike Moustakas' walk-off, two-run homer in the ninth inning of the Royals' 9-7 win on Tuesday night likely never would have happened without a dramatic four-run rally against the Astros' vaunted bullpen in the eighth.

Down 7-3, the Royals erupted for four runs, three coming home on Whit Merrifield's clutch double into the left-field corner off closer Ken Giles that tied it at 7.

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One day after his 19-game hitting streak ended, Merrifield was back smashing the ball with two doubles on the night.

The eighth-inning double nearly didn't happen: Merrifield took an 0-2 pitch from Giles, a 99-mph heater, that barely missed the corner outside.

Video: HOU@KC: Moustakas cranks a walk-off homer to right

"He threw it and I didn't think I could hit it," Merrifield said. "When you throw 100, but [catcher Evan Gattis] was set up pretty far out so maybe it looked better than it was."

Merrifield knew he was in for a tough at-bat. He finally pounced on a hanging 1-2 slider.

"Giles is a go get-em from the get-go," Merrifield said. "He throws 100 [mph] with a bang-em slider. Just looking for a mistake and I got one. Just got the bat on it and it found a good spot."

Royals manager Ned Yost wasn't surprised by Merrifield's at-bat.

"That's a good at-bat," Yost said. "That's what he strives to do when he gets in that box is put together good at-bats. He's got a good eye. He's a selective hitter. He tries to get a good pitch to hit, and when he gets one he tries to drive it."

The rally from being down 7-1 was one of the feel-good moments of the season for the Royals.

"It was awesome," Merrifield said. "And especially against a team like that. Hopefully we can build on it. We've had situations like this before and haven't been able to build. Hopefully we can this time and carry us on the rest of the series.

"Hopefully it can get us over the hump."

Merrifield believes it will.

"We're a good team," Merrifield said. "We got good hitters up and down the lineup. A lot of us got off to a slow start, but we're feeling better right now."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Whit Merrifield