HOUSTON -- Ace lefty Dallas Keuchel turned in another fantastic effort before the home crowd, rejuvenated slugger Chris Carter bashed another home run and Minute Maid Park was rocking. It's becoming a way of life for the Astros.
Keuchel held the Royals to one run in seven innings, and Carter had three hits, including his first postseason home run, to send the Astros to a 4-2 win over the Royals before a raucous crowd of 42,674 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Sunday afternoon.
The Astros, playing at home in the postseason for the first time since the 2005 World Series, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, and they can close it out by winning Game 4 on Monday, live on Fox Sports 1 at 1 p.m. ET.
"We have a lot of playmakers on this team that can change the course of a game with one swing or one pitch, and just now that we're getting into the playoffs and getting on that national stage, it's a shock to a lot of people," Keuchel said. "But it's been there."
Of the Royals' situation of needing two straight wins, outfielder Alex Gordon said, "It can be done. We've won two straight before."
"Yeah, it's a five-game series, we know that," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We have got to win two, they got to win one. But [if] we come out tomorrow and we win, then it's excitement back at The K for Game 5. So, we're looking forward to that."
Jason Castro gave the Astros a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning with a two-run single up the middle off Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings. Kansas City had taken a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a leadoff homer by Lorenzo Cain.
"It's been a long road," said Castro, who, along with Keuchel, was on the Astros' 111-loss team in 2012. "We knew that it would be a few years before we could be at this point, but we trusted the process, tried to better ourselves through that time and just hoped that once we got in this situation, we would be ready."
Keuchel, who went 15-0 in the regular season at Minute Maid Park, fed off the energy of the crowd and won his second postseason start in six days. In 13 postseason innings, he's allowed one run.
"It means everything to me," Keuchel said of playing at home. "You saw what the crowd was today. Even when I gave up that solo home run, I knew if I kept the team in the game, we had a pretty good shot to win. [It was an] electric crowd, and it was 10 years coming, so hopefully we can bring the same electricity tomorrow and have a good game."
The Astros took a 3-1 lead in the sixth on a Carlos Gomez RBI single, and Carter led off the seventh inning with a towering homer to left field off Danny Duffy to make it 4-1. Carter singled in the first and was thrown out at second base trying to stretch it to a double, and he doubled and scored in the fifth.
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura comes back on three days' rest for the pivotal Game 4 on Monday. Ventura worked Game 1 and gave up three runs in two innings before a 49-minute rain delay. The Royals did not bring him back after the delay.
Astros: Rookie right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. gets the call for the Astros in Game 4 at Minute Maid Park with a chance to clinch the series. This will be the first playoff start for McCullers, who was called up from Double-A earlier this season.