NEW YORK — Anyone who thought Houston would be a Yankee Stadium pushover hasn’t been paying attention to Chris Carter at the plate.
After striking out four straight times, Carter snapped a ninth-inning tie with a colossal three-run homer the night of Aug. 19 that extended his second-half power surge and sent the Astros to a 7-4 victory over the New York Yankees.
“I was just trying to hit it and put it in play. My first four at-bats, I didn’t do anything,” Carter said with a smile. “I went up there in the last at-bat and just tried to forget about it and regroup.”
Marwin Gonzalez knocked in two runs with a pinch-hit single, and the fourth-place Astros (53-73) won for the third time in four meetings with the Yankees this year.
Despite a $154 million difference in opening-day payroll, Houston took two of three at home against New York to begin the season.
“Shows us that we’re on the right track,” winning pitcher Josh Fields said. “We’re playing a lot better baseball than last year.”
Brian McCann hit a two-run homer, and Martin Prado had three hits for the Yankees, who dropped the opener of a six-game homestand against two teams with losing records.
New York fell four games out of a playoff spot. “We were able to come back and tie the game up and we let it slip away,” Manager Joe Girardi said.
David Robertson (1-4) walked consecutive batters and threw seven straight balls before Carter launched a 3-0 pitch into the raised concrete bleachers in left field for his 30th home run.
“I tried to make a good pitch down and away. Instead, I threw it right into his bat path, and he put it 30 rows deep,” Robertson said. “I struggled out there tonight and I blew it for our team.”
Carter, the reigning AL player of the week, is batting .340 with eight homers and 19 RBIs in his past 13 games. He leads the majors with 17 home runs and 42 RBIs since July 1.
“It was like somebody flipped a light switch,” Fields said. Fields (3-6) tossed a scoreless eighth on his 29th birthday. With the infield in, Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out at home on a one-out grounder to shortstop by slumping Carlos Beltran.
Chad Qualls worked a perfect ninth for his 14th save.
Prado singled in the fourth off starter Brett Oberholtzer before McCann drove an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in right for his 14th homer.
Robbie Grossman hit a two-out RBI single in the fifth, and Houston chased Chris Capuano on his 36th birthday during a three-run sixth.
Fowler led off with a triple and scored on Jason Castro’s tying groundout. After consecutive singles, both runners moved up when Jake Marisnick’s groundout deflected off reliever Adam Warren.
Astros Manager Bo Porter pushed the right button, lifting No. 9 batter Gregorio Petit for a left-handed hitter even though Petit had doubled both times up. Gonzalez hit a two-run single that gave Houston a 4-2 lead.
It was the first run-scoring hit by a Houston pinch hitter since Jesus Guzman had an RBI single against Texas on May 14. “I didn’t think that I was going in that early,” Gonzalez said. “Bo told me like 10 minutes before.”
Prado tied it in the bottom half with a two-run double that ended Oberholtzer’s night.
(MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Sports Writer)