Bronx, NY – Eduardo Nunez scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and the New York Yankees eked by the Houston Astros, 5-4, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Robinson Cano and Ben Francisco each belted solo home runs, while New York's bullpen was lights out behind David Phelps to secure the club's sixth win in seven games.
Boone Logan (2-1), David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined to allow two hits in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, with Rivera surviving a leadoff single in the ninth to nail down his 11th save of the season.
"The three guys did a great job," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "To compete in the American League, your bullpen has to be a strong point."
Carlos Pena went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored as Houston lost its second straight after taking the series opener.
The Astros pulled even at 4-4 thanks to a four-run fourth inning, but good baserunning by the Yankees broke the tie in the sixth.
Paul Clemens (1-1) came on in relief of an ineffective Erik Bedard and gave up a leadoff double to Nunez, who moved to third on a wild pitch before Lyle Overbay worked a walk. Wesley Wright relieved Clemons with one out and got Ichiro Suzuki to hit a routine grounder to second. Jose Altuve got the force out at first and Overbay was tagged out in a rundown, but not before Nunez crossed the plate as the go-ahead run.
"I let my team down," Clemens said. "Next time I get this opportunity I won't let it happen again."
Brandon Barnes led off the ninth with a base hit and was attempting to steal second with Matt Dominguez at the plate. Dominguez, however, hit a soft liner to second that Cano caught before tagging Barnes for an easy double play. Marwin Gonzalez struck out swinging to end the game.
The Yankees scored in their first at-bat as Suzuki led off with a triple and crossed home on Jayson Nix's single. Bedard walked the first three batters in the second and limited the damage to Chris Stewart's sacrifice fly, but a pair of solo homers in the third doubled New York's lead.
Cano crushed a hanging 0-2 curveball into the seats in the right-center to open the inning, and three batters later Francisco hit a towering fly ball that carried just over the left-field wall for his first home run as a Yankee.
The Astros came in 0-13 when their opponent scores first but showed some fight by batting around in the fourth. Pena singled in Altuve with a base hit off Nunez's glove, Fernando Martinez was plunked on his right knee with the bases loaded to force in Jason Castro, Barnes beat out a potential inning-ending double-play ball to knock in Pena and Dominguez slapped a run-scoring base hit to left for a 4-4 game.
The Astros were looking for their first series win against the Yankees ... The Yankees improved to 8-3 against left-handed starters this season ... Both Phelps and Bedard gave up four runs. Phelps, in his first start in place of the injured Ivan Nova, allowed eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, while Bedard surrendered six hits and four walks over his short four-inning stint ... New York closes out its 10-game homestand with a three-game weekend series against the Athletics ... Houston heads home for 10 straight games, starting with a four-game series against the Tigers.