Eric Christian Smith
July 25, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) In its first test since star closer Aroldis Chapman was traded, the New York Yankees' bullpen came through just fine.

Austin Romine hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning to make a winner of Michael Pineda, and the Yankees held off the Houston Astros 2-1 on Monday night.

Hours after New York shipped Chapman to the Chicago Cubs, All-Star relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller closed out Houston to help the fourth-place Yankees (51-48) move three games above .500 for the first time this season.

''You're not asking a young kid to maybe step into something that he's never done before,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''We still have a lot of experience down there; the bridge becomes very important. Obviously we didn't need it tonight, but that becomes very important.''

Betances struck out the side in the eighth before Miller, back in the ninth-inning role following Chapman's departure, earned his eighth save. The fired-up lefty pumped his fist when he got Carlos Gomez to ground into a game-ending double play with two on.

A frustrated Gomez spiked his helmet and kicked at the ground after he was out at first base.

''Obviously, he's pretty good at what he does, so we're going to have to find a way to fill the hole that he leaves,'' Miller said about Chapman. ''We've got talented guys who are capable of stepping up, and it's up to them to do it. I think they will.''

Pineda (5-9) pitched seven strong innings to beat Yankees nemesis Dallas Keuchel (6-10), last year's AL Cy Young Award winner.

''I didn't want to make any mistakes because I knew this team is aggressive for the first pitch,'' Pineda said. ''I threw my best pitch for the first pitch.''

George Springer hit a leadoff homer and Luis Valbuena had three hits for Houston, which had won four straight. Top prospect Alex Bregman went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his major league debut.

Romine's double to deep center field scored Chase Headley, who singled to start the eighth.

''He's done a really good job all around,'' Girardi said about Romine. ''This is a kid that's really persevered. He's really fought to get to this spot and he's had a really good year.''

Headley singled in the fifth to drive in Didi Gregorius, tying it at 1.

Pineda allowed five hits and struck out eight in his second straight solid outing after throwing six scoreless innings Wednesday against Baltimore.

The big right-hander retired 14 of 15 during one stretch, but ran into trouble in the sixth. He loaded the bases with two outs before Bregman flied out to the right-field warning track.

Springer's fifth leadoff home run of the year was the 11th for the Astros this season, surpassing the previous club record of 10 set in 2001.

Keuchel gave up two runs and six hits with five strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. He has allowed two runs or fewer in four straight starts.

The left-hander retired 13 of his first 14 batters. The only hit he gave up was Romine's single in the third until Gregorius' double in the fifth.

''I felt like today was the first time even through this whole stretch that I was able to command both sides of the plate,'' Keuchel said. ''Fastballs to both sides. The only thing lacking were a few sliders to Romine.''

BIG DEAL

Chapman was sent to the Cubs for pitcher Adam Warren and three minor league prospects.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Astros: INF Marwin Gonzalez sat out after spraining his left ankle in the fifth inning Sunday. ''He's doing OK,'' manager A.J. Hinch said. ''We are keeping him out of some baseball activities to monitor his ankle. We'll give him the day off, but I would really like him to play tomorrow if he's capable.''

A-ROD OPTIMISTIC

Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez was out of the lineup for a third straight game. Rodriguez, who is 4 for 31 with one home run in July, is batting .206 this season with nine home runs and 29 RBIs, but he's optimistic after speaking to the Yankees' sabermetrics department. ''There's no question that for the first two months, my mechanics were out of whack,'' Rodriguez said. ''I think I found something, and I'm excited to put it into play.''

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (5-8) will start his 18th game of the season Tuesday. Sabathia has allowed 31 runs - 29 earned - in his last 35 innings, spanning six starts.

Astros: RHP Doug Fister (10-6) will make his 20th start of the season and look to follow up one of his best outings of the year when he threw seven scoreless innings Wednesday at Oakland.

You May Like