Carter, Yankees jump on Pirates late in 11-5 win

New York Yankees' Chris Carter, right, rounds second past Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier after hitting a pinch-hit, three-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Felipe Rivero in the eighth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, April 22, 2017. (AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chris Carter spent most of the winter waiting for the phone to ring and a good portion of the spring waiting for the power that produced 41 home runs with Milwaukee last season to show up for the New York Yankees.

With one swing of the bat on Saturday, that power was finally on display. Carter delivered a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the eighth inning off reliever Felipe Rivero to lift the Yankees to an 11-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Despite tying for the National League lead in home runs in 2016, Carter languished on the free-agent market and didn’t sign with New York until mid-February. The transition from starter to platoon player has been bumpy. Carter stepped to the plate in the eighth hitting .148 on the season with no homers and just one extra-base hit.

That number doubled when Carter sent an 86 mph changeup from Rivero (1-1) beyond the center-field fence to put New York up to stay.

“This is right up there,” Carter said. “First time with the Yankees. Big situation. We needed it late in the game and I’m happy to come through when we needed it.”

Starlin Castro added a three-run shot of his own and Aaron Judge hit his team-high sixth home run for New York, a 457-foot blast in the ninth. Ronald Torreyes had four hits and two RBIs.

Dellin Betances (2-1) earned the win in relief, stranding a runner at third in the seventh to preserve a tie before New York took advantage of some sloppy Pittsburgh defense in the eighth.

Andrew McCutchen hit his third home run and had a sacrifice fly for Pittsburgh. David Freese added a solo home run, but the Pirates fell apart late.

Austin Romine reached on a two-out error by Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier before Torreyes singled to give Carter a chance.

“It makes you feel like you’re a big part of the team when you win a game like that for a team,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “It can get a guy going. For him, it was big for him, and it was big for us.”

The rally continued when a misplayed fly ball by McCutchen and left fielder Gregory Polanco allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to race to third base. Ellsbury scored on a wild pitch, and Aaron Hicks and Chase Headley hit back-to-back doubles to cap the five-run outburst.

All five runs were unearned. The Pirates have allowed a major league-high 15 unearned runs this season.

“I think our overall defense has got to tighten up,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The problematic play tonight was at second base. The inning Rivero’s up there, that’s three outs. We’re off the field. It didn’t happen.”

The late surge seemed unlikely early as New York struggled to get anything going against Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon. The 24-year-old who has shown ace stuff at the start of his second season held New York without a hit until consecutive two-out singles in the fifth but came undone in the sixth, leaving after giving up the home run to Castro and a double to Judge. Taillon allowed a season-high four runs (one more than he’d given up in his first three starts combined) over 5 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking three as his ERA rose from 0.90 to 2.13.

New York starter Michael Pineda escaped with a no-decision despite giving up multiple home runs on the road for the first time in 43 starts. McCutchen went deep off him in the first and Freese reached the seats in right-center in the third. Pineda was pulled in favor of a pinch hitter during New York’s extended rally in the sixth, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks — double the amount he’d issued all season — and six strikeouts.


Judge’s massive drive was his second of the week. He drilled a 448-foot homer against the White Sox on Wednesday, though Girardi wondered if somebody messed up the math and shorted Judge a few feet. Girardi didn’t quibble with the estimate on Saturday. Then again, he might not have seen it land.

“Sometimes these guys hit the ball so far, I can’t follow it that far,” Girardi said.


Yankees: C Gary Sanchez did some “tee and toss” batting practice as he continues to rehab the strained right shoulder that has kept him out since April 8. Girardi said the team is more worried about the shoulder being an issue when Sanchez throws than when he swings.

Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli was removed in the ninth due to an unspecified health concern.


Yankees: Rookie LHP Jordan Montgomery makes his third career start on Sunday. Montgomery (1-0, 4.22 ERA) earned his first victory after allowing two runs over six-plus innings last Monday against the Chicago White Sox.

Pirates: Ex-Yankee Ivan Nova faces his former team for the first time in the series finale. Nova (1-2, 2.25) went 53-39 in six-plus seasons with New York before being traded to Pittsburgh last summer.