HOUSTON (AP) – Aroldis Chapman struck out AL MVP Jose Altuve on three straight 101 mph fastballs with two on to end the game, and the New York Yankees got a key hit from rookie Gleyber Torres during a three-run rally in the ninth inning to seesaw past the Houston Astros 6-5 Thursday.
The Yankees won a wild one to take three of four from the team that beat them in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series last October. Astros closer Ken Giles, who punched himself in the face after a rough outing earlier in this series, didn’t pitch during New York’s late comeback.
New York took a 3-0 lead into the seventh, trailed 5-3 going into the ninth and let a bounced third strike give the Astros their final chance.
Pinch hitter Evan Gattis fanned but reached on Chapman’s two-out wild pitch that catcher Gary Sanchez couldn’t find near the plate, and George Springer followed with a single. Altuve went down swinging, giving Chapman his seventh save and the Yankees a 6-1 record on their road trip against the top two teams in the AL West.
Houston, which had been shut out two days in a row, scored four times in the seventh and Carlos Correa added a solo homer in the eighth. The Yankees quickly loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth against Will Harris (1-2) on a walk and singles by Miguel Andujar and pinch hitter Aaron Hicks.
Brad Peacock came in and Torres, who finished with three RBIs, hit a two-single to left that made it 5-all. With one out, Aaron Judge chopped a grounder that third baseman Alex Bregman charged – instead of trying to get Hicks at the plate, Bregman threw to second, hoping to start an inning-ending double play.
Altuve caught the ball for the forceout, but dropped it as Torres slid in. Hicks scored on the play for a 6-5 lead.
Chasen Shreve (1-0) got the last two outs of the eighth for the win.
Houston starter Lance McCullers yielded five hits and three runs in seven innings. He gave up all three runs in the first three innings and settled down after that, retiring 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
The Astros trailed 3-0 and had managed just three singles when Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick hit consecutive singles with no outs in the seventh. Masahiro Tanaka hit Bregman with a pitch to load the bases, and reliever Chad Green was greeted by an RBI single from Marwin Gonzalez.
Brian McCann singled home another run and a passed ball by Sanchez tied it. Springer hit a grounder that was deflected by Green, and the go-ahead run scored.
Tanaka allowed five hits and three runs in five-plus innings.
Yankees: 1B Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) is scheduled to get his first at-bats on Monday in an extended spring game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. Boone said they have not decided whether he’ll start in Class A Tampa or Triple-A Scranton when he’s ready for a rehabilitation assignment.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (2-0, 1.71 ERA) faces the Cleveland Indians on Friday. Sabathia has allowed just one earned run in 17 1/3 innings since returning from the disabled list on April 19.
Astros: RHP Gerrit Cole (2-1, 1.73 ERA) will start in the opener of a three-game series against Arizona on Friday. Cole set the American League record for strikeouts in the month of April with 61 by fanning 12 in his last start.
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