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Yanks rally with 3-run 9th to thwart Astros

MLB.com @BryanHoch

HOUSTON -- The Yankees were staring at the possibility of settling for a solid road trip and a well-fought rematch of the American League Championship Series, but a ninth-inning rally vs. the Astros produced a better outcome for the Bombers, who could savor an even happier flight home on Thursday afternoon.

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HOUSTON -- The Yankees were staring at the possibility of settling for a solid road trip and a well-fought rematch of the American League Championship Series, but a ninth-inning rally vs. the Astros produced a better outcome for the Bombers, who could savor an even happier flight home on Thursday afternoon.

Video: NYY@HOU: Hicks scores on a FC to put Yankees on top

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Gleyber Torres blooped a game-tying two-run single and Aaron Judge knocked home the winning run on a fielder's choice as the Yankees punched back, overcoming the Astros' late push to earn a 6-5 victory at Minute Maid Park, securing their 12th victory in 13 games and capping a 6-1 swing through Anaheim and Houston.

Video: NYY@HOU: Torres plates two to tie the game in 9th

"We compete every day," Torres said. "This team is super good right now. We're on the same page every day, every night. We compete and we try to win every game."

Torres a driving force behind Yanks' surge

Down to their final three outs, a walk and two hits loaded the bases against Will Harris. Torres greeted Brad Peacock with a soft fly ball to left field that fell in, chasing home Neil Walker and Miguel Andujar. After a flyout, Judge hit a sharp grounder to the left side of the infield and the Astros were unable to turn the double play as Aaron Hicks trotted home.

Video: NYY@HOU: Boone on Chapman, quality at-bats in win

"Our guys never, never mail it in," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "They just strung together a lot of quality at-bats late in that game to pull it out. That's a good day right there."

Video: NYY@HOU: Chapman strikes out Altuve to seal the win

Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for the save, though in fitting fashion for this taut series, even that did not come without tension. Chapman struck out pinch-hitter Evan Gattis for what should have been the final out, but it skipped away from catcher Gary Sanchez for a wild pitch.

Video: NYY@HOU: Chapman hits 100+ mph 3 times on Altuve K

George Springer singled to bring up Jose Altuve, at which point Boone said that he nudged infield coach Carlos Mendoza, commenting on what great theatre was taking place in front of them. Chapman's adrenaline spiked, and he pumped three straight 101-mph fastballs past the reigning AL MVP.

"I had full confidence that Chappy would come through there," Boone said. "He really reached back for a little extra with Altuve."

Video: NYY@HOU: Tanaka fans five across six-plus innings

Masahiro Tanaka had cruised through six scoreless frames, carrying on the terrific work by a pitching staff that blanked the defending World Series champions over 28 consecutive innings in this series. Two hits and a contested hit by pitch set the table for a four-run Houston rally in the seventh inning.

With New York leading, 3-0, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick opened the seventh with hits off Tanaka before Alex Bregman claimed to have been hit by an up-and-in sinker that came close to his uniform sleeve. The Yankees challenged, but the call was ruled to stand after review.

"I think the batters got to the ball well," Tanaka said. "I don't think I had my best stuff, but I felt like I was able to be unpredictable [earlier in the game]."

Chad Green entered in relief, permitting a run-scoring infield hit to Marwin Gonzalez before Brian McCann ripped an RBI single to right field. Bregman scored the tying run as catcher Sanchez was charged with a passed ball, and Springer brought home the go-ahead run with a groundout to the mound. Carlos Correa hit an eighth-inning homer to make it a 5-3 game.

Video: NYY@HOU: Springer's groundout gives Astros a 4-3 lead

Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. struggled early before settling in. The first four Yankees reached base in the second inning against the right-hander, with Ronald Torreyes legging out a run-scoring infield hit and Torres lifting a sacrifice fly. New York extended the lead in the third inning as Didi Gregorius doubled and scored on Walker's RBI single.

"It's good. We won. That's the most important thing," Torres said. "Everybody does the job. I put in something to help my team. We compete every day."

SOUND SMART
At 21 years and 141 days, Torres is the youngest Yankee with a three-RBI game since Derek Jeter (20 years, 343 days) drove in three runs in an 11-3 victory over the Angels on June 4, 1995.

Video: NYY@HOU: Torres brings home Walker with a sac fly

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Torreyes has a knack for doing something to contribute to the effort every time his name is in the lineup. Not only did he drive in the Yankees' first run, but Torreyes soared to make an excellent diving stab to his right in the second inning, taking a hit away from Gurriel.

Video: NYY@HOU: Torreyes lays out to rob Gurriel in the 2nd

HE SAID IT
"It has to do with his preparation. He's a guy that comes here every day and prepares himself very well. That allows him to stay cool in a tough situation."
-- Andujar, on Torres

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Yankees challenged in the seventh inning after Bregman claimed to have been hit by a Tanaka sinker that came up and in to the right-handed batter. The replay was reviewed for two minutes and 43 seconds, at which time the call was ruled to stand.

Video: NYY@HOU: Bregman is hit by a pitch, call stands

UP NEXT
May the Fourth be with you. On Aaron Judge "Star Wars" bobblehead night in The Bronx, CC Sabathia will take the ball against his original team as the Yankees open a three-game series against the Indians on Friday. It is the first meeting between the clubs since the AL Division Series. Josh Tomlin starts for Cleveland in the 7:05 p.m. ET contest.

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

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka