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Yanks' win streak ended by Astros' Morton

Bombers held to two hits by Game 7 winner in ALCS rematch
MLB.com @BryanHoch

HOUSTON -- The Yankees had a plane fueled and ready last October, a few runs separating them from the West Coast and an appearance in the World Series. Charlie Morton helped crush that dream, instead directing them to clean out their lockers in The Bronx.

With the participants from that American League Championship Series again sharing the same playing field on Monday evening, Morton picked up where he left off, striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball. The Astros defeated the Yankees, 2-1, ending New York's nine-game winning streak.

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HOUSTON -- The Yankees had a plane fueled and ready last October, a few runs separating them from the West Coast and an appearance in the World Series. Charlie Morton helped crush that dream, instead directing them to clean out their lockers in The Bronx.

With the participants from that American League Championship Series again sharing the same playing field on Monday evening, Morton picked up where he left off, striking out 10 over 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball. The Astros defeated the Yankees, 2-1, ending New York's nine-game winning streak.

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"For me, last year is over and done with," Brett Gardner said. "They beat us last year, and this year is a new year. They've got a really, really good team. I feel like we do, too, and obviously tonight we just came up a little short."

Snapping off a variety of pitches with video-game break, Morton held the Yanks hitless until Austin Romine singled with one out in the sixth inning. Gleyber Torres' two-out double chased Morton in the eighth, helping to set up the visitors' only run of the night.

Aaron Judge pinch-hit and worked a walk off Brad Peacock before the Astros went to the bullpen again. Gardner ripped Chris Devenski's first pitch for an RBI single, but Devenski struck out American League Player of the Week Didi Gregorius to end the threat. Ken Giles struck out the side in the ninth for his third save.

Video: NYY@HOU: Devenski K's Gregorius to preserve the lead

"I feel like as long as that game is within reach, we've got a shot," manager Aaron Boone said. "You get Judgey up there and get the tying runs on base. Gardy gets a big hit and we've got some guys coming up. We just didn't get that hit to push us over the top today, [but it was] a good job to hang around and give ourselves a chance."

Morton's effort overshadowed an encouraging outing by Yankees starter Sonny Gray, who limited the defending World Series champions to two runs on four hits over six innings. It was the second quality start out of six this season for Gray, who walked three and struck out four.

Houston put a run on the board in the first inning as George Springer singled, advanced when Gray got mixed up on his signals and flinched for a balk, then came home with a pair of groundouts. In the fourth, Yuli Gurriel doubled home Jose Altuve before Gray pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam.

"I think it's a step in the right direction for me, personally," Gray said. "Unfortunately, Morton was a little bit better -- maybe a lot better. That's a tough one to swallow, but at the same time, for me, it was a step in the right direction for sure."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Buddy system: The bond between Gray and Romine continues to grow, prompting Boone to say after Monday's game that he will pair them when the schedule permits. Gray made it clear that he prefers pitching to Romine over Gary Sanchez, lauding Romine's adaptability in game-calling and saying that he shook off Romine only once all evening. In particular, Gray pointed to the fourth-inning escape in which he struck out Marwin Gonzalez and got Brian McCann to fly out, leaving the bases loaded.

"He adapts to the game," Gray said of Romine. "There's great communication. Between innings, there's constant communication, which, for me, is extremely beneficial with everything I try to do with the baseball."

Video: NYY@HOU: Gray ends a bases-loaded threat in the 4th

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Smooth slide: Torres continues to show his tools as a polished defender, making a nifty sliding stop to retire Springer in the fifth inning and making a rapid turn on a 6-4-3 double play that ended the eighth. The Yankees had won each of Torres' first eight games in the big leagues.

"He opens your eyes a little more every day," Boone said. "I kind of joked, it looks like he's yawning while he's doing it. He plays with a lot of confidence in the field. For being only 21, he plays like more of an experienced player. It shows up on a nightly basis."

Video: NYY@HOU: Torres makes a smooth sliding stop in 5th

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Gray has a 2.64 ERA in 18 career starts with Romine, and a 6.07 ERA in 11 starts with Sanchez (includes postseason).

"I think it's something that me, personally, I want to feel comfortable, no matter what," Gray said. "I want to feel comfortable with myself, that I know what I need to do. Ultimately, it kind of can boil down to me being able to process the game a little bit better myself at times. When everything is going good and you're winning, it doesn't matter."

UP NEXT
Jordan Montgomery will take the ball for the MLB Network Showcase Game at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night as the Yankees and Astros face off in the second game of this four-game series. Tyler Austin is expected to return to the Yanks' lineup following the completion of his four-game suspension. He'll be tested by Astros ace Justin Verlander, the ALCS MVP following last fall's showdown between these clubs.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

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