NEW YORK (AP) — Masahiro Tanaka got back on track with 6 1/3 effective innings, Aroldis Chapman escaped his own jam for his third save in three days and the New York Yankees beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Friday night for their fifth straight win.
Chapman allowed a two-out walk to Randal Grichuk and a double to pinch-hitter Jose Martinez before Dexter Fowler — the closer’s teammate on the World Series champion Cubs last year — grounded out to second to end it. Chapman got his third save on the season.
Tanaka (1-1) entered with an 11.74 ERA over his first two starts, but he recovered nicely Friday after Matt Carpenter’s two-run homer in the first. The Japanese right-hander allowed three runs, five hits and two walks and struck out five.
Starlin Castro and Austin Romine homered for New York, which is 4-0 to begin this nine-game homestand.
Michael Wacha (1-1) struck out eight for struggling St. Louis but allowed two homers and four runs over six innings.
Manager Joe Girardi has tied Tanaka’s early struggles to poor control and difficulties with his split-finger fastball. Tanaka’s go-to pitch briefly betrayed him when he mis-located a trio of splitters to Carpenter — two in the dirt, one over the plate — before the Cardinals’ No. 3 hitter launched his first homer of the season, a two-run shot off a 95 mph sinker.
Tanaka mostly cruised after that. He threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of his first 16 batters and retired 10 straight before Matt Adams’ broken-bat single to start the seventh. A fielder’s choice and a walk followed, and then Grichuk ended Tanaka’s outing with an RBI double to left.
Two batters later, Fowler drove a ball to the warning track off Tyler Clippard, but right fielder Aaron Judge chased it down.
Dellin Betances struck out three in a scoreless eighth, and New York’s relievers haven’t allowed an earned run over their last 13 1/3 innings. The bullpen entered the night second in the majors with a 1.19 ERA.
St. Louis is 3-7 this season and lost this one in part because of a sloppy defensive miscue. In the fifth, Jacoby Ellsbury was held at third on Chase Headley’s double, but second baseman Kolten Wong still relayed the ball home from short right field. Catcher Yadier Molina misplayed the short-hop, and the ball rolled toward the backstop, allowing Ellsbury to score.
Castro homered to right-center on Wacha’s 96 mph fastball in the first inning. The two-run shot was his second this season, both to the opposite field.
Romine put New York up 3-2 with a solo homer in the second, hours after Girardi remarked the glove-first catcher has “figured it out a little bit” at the plate.
St. Louis’ Matt Bowman pitched a perfect seventh inning and has 15 consecutive scoreless innings dating to last season. He also pitched 12 scoreless innings in spring training.
Girardi and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny were Cardinals teammates the last time the Redbirds played in the Bronx — a three-game series in June 2003.
Cardinals: LHP Tyler Lyons dominated in his rehab start with Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday, but Matheny said he is still building up. Lyons is on the 10-day disabled list with a right knee injury.
Yankees: Greg Bird started at first base for the second straight game after missing four games with a sore right ankle and a stomach ailment. He went 0 for 3 and is 1 for 23 on the season with 11 strikeouts.
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (0-1, 3.65 ERA) gave up six runs over five innings to Cincinnati in his last start. He’ll pitch Saturday with an extra day of rest.
Yankees: CC Sabathia (1-0, 1.64) has more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) through two starts but has allowed just two earned runs over two New York victories.
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