NEW YORK (AP) — Booed and banged up during a frustrating season, Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton muscled his way to a breakthrough performance Saturday night.
A couple inches the other way, it might’ve been the Houston Astros’ turn to exhale.
Stanton hit a pair of go-ahead, two-run singles — both off third baseman Yuli Gurriel’s glove — and New York beat Houston 7-5 for its eighth straight win. The Astros lost their seventh in a row in the matchup of AL division leaders.
Stanton made it 4-2 in the sixth inning with a 104 mph grounder that skipped off Gurriel’s mitt and into shallow left field — ruled a hit on a tough call for the official scorer. Stanton smashed an almost identical ball an inning later — clocked at 107 mph — which Gurriel dived for and tipped. That one got past him, too, this time for an undisputed single against Ryan Pressly (1-1) for a 7-5 lead.
“It’s great to be able to contribute to a win finally,” Stanton said.
Stanton got his first four RBIs of the season. He’s only played seven games, missing 2 ½ months due to biceps, shoulder and calf injuries. Some fans at Yankee Stadium have booed the 2017 NL MVP as he’s struggled to get up to speed.
“You have to give the guy a break,” teammate Luke Voit said, adding “just getting those reps in. He won MVP for a reason. It’s nice having an MVP hit behind you.”
“Sometimes we forget what a good player he is,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Hope they saw those at-bats.”
Zack Britton let Houston load the bases in the ninth but got Tyler White to hit a game-ending flyout to right for his third save.
Gio Urshela and Austin Romine went deep for New York, giving the Yankees a homer in 25 straight games. That tied Joe DiMaggio and the 1941 Yankees for most in franchise history. The 2002 Texas Rangers hold the major league mark at 27.
New York’s winning streak includes three victories each against Tampa Bay and Houston, a pair of AL postseason hopefuls. The Yankees will try for a four-game sweep of the Astros on Sunday.
The Astros stranded 11 and have left 32 on base over the past three games. Houston’s skid is its longest since dropping seven straight in 2015.
“It’s tough when you lose a lead given the week we’ve had,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We’re all human, we’re all pretty frustrated.”
The teams went back and forth in the final innings. Romine hit a solo shot to make it 5-5 in the seventh, a half-inning after Astros rookie Yordan Alvarez drove a go-ahead, three-run homer off Jonathan Holder (5-2). It was Alvarez’s sixth homer in 11 big league games.
Houston left-hander Wade Miley pitched no-hit ball until Urshela’s two-run drive in the fifth. Josh Reddick countered with a two-run shot for Houston a half-inning later, but New York reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Stanton delivered his first two-run single.
“It takes a great play to avoid (them scoring),” Hinch said. “It just ticks it off enough for the second run to score. So both of those balls are hit hard and credit to Stanton for putting good swings on them.”
YANKEE DO-IT-ALL DANDIES
New York converted a number of sparkling defensive plays. Voit made a diving stop at first base on a grounder in the fourth, then leaned into the photo well to snag a foul ball the next at-bat. Stanton made a leaping catch at the wall in left during the sixth, and Aaron Judge cut down Max Stassi from right trying for a double three batters later. Center fielder Aaron Hicks robbed Altuve with a sliding, backhanded grab in the seventh, and Urshela charged for Gurriel’s roller in the ninth for a sharp 5-3 putout.
Astros outfielders combined for two errors on the same bizarre play in the fourth. Voit hit a drive into the right-center gap, and the ball bounced out of center fielder Jake Marisnick’s glove. Right fielder Josh Reddick picked it up, but the ball slipped from his hand as he tried to throw it, flopping down a few feet away. That let Voit cruise into second base.
Astros: OF George Springer (strained left hamstring) was set to play center and right field for Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday, then serve as the DH on Sunday. Houston hopes he’ll rejoin the big league team Tuesday. … RHP Collin McHugh (elbow) and RHP Joe Smith (left Achilles tendon surgery) both felt good a day after rehab appearances with Corpus Christi. McHugh was set to throw again Saturday and could return soon.
Yankees: OF Cameron Maybin had an MRI that revealed a Grade 2 strain in his left calf, which is expected to sideline him for over a month, at least. Maybin will go on the injured list, but the Yankees were waiting until after Saturday’s game to formalize the move. … C Gary Sánchez and INF Gleyber Torres were both rested.
Astros ace Justin Verlander (9-3, 2.59) faces Yankees LHP J.A. Happ (7-3, 4.59). Verlander is 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in three starts against the Yankees over the past two regular seasons.
Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports