Vernon Wells stroked a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fifth to lift the New York Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the middle test of a three-game set Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
Jayson Nix collected two of New York's six hits, while starter Andy Pettitte (4-2) struck out seven and allowed just two runs on five hits over seven strong frames to lead the Yankees to their fourth straight win.
"I felt good. There's no doubt," Pettitte said of his outing. "Obviously I felt like I had a little better command of my stuff."
Mariano Rivera worked around a two-out double in the ninth to nail down his 14th save.
James Shields (2-3) was a hard-luck loser, giving up three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and two walks over eight efficient innings.
Billy Butler belted a solo homer and Lorenzo Cain added an RBI in the setback, Kansas City's second in a row and fifth in its last six games.
Butler's blast to lead off the fourth gave the Royals a 2-1 lead, but the visitors answered with a pair in the fifth to seize control.
Shields plunked Chris Stewart to start the frame, but bounced back by striking out Brett Gardner and flying out Robinson Cano. Wells then launched a 3-1 fastball into the bullpen in left field to give New York a slim one-run edge.
"Home runs are home runs, but you can't give Stewart a free base right there," Shields said of hitting Stewart. "To me that's unacceptable. He's a nine-hole hitter and I had him on a 1-2 count."
Pettitte pitched his way out of trouble in the bottom half before retiring the Royals in order over his final two frames. David Robertson then fanned all three hitters he faced in the eighth before Rivera shut the door in the ninth.
A Kansas City miscue led to the game's first run in the third, which Chris Nelson started with a double to left. Shields quickly retired Stewart and Gardner before inducing a grounder to third from Cano that Mike Moustakas fielded cleanly, but his throw to first sailed over the head of Eric Hosmer, allowing Nelson to race home for a 1-0 lead.
The Royals bounced back with a run in the bottom half, as Elliot Johnson started the frame with a single before swiping second. After moving to third on an Alcides Escobar groundout, Johnson crossed the plate on Cain's groundout to make it 1-1.
Butler's RBI was the 500th of his career ... Pettitte improved to 15-3 in 25 games (23 starts) against the Royals ... Shields fell to 7-15 in 27 starts against the Yankees ... New York went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left five on base ... The Royals finished 0-for-6 with RISP and stranded five.