A reversed call in the seventh inning kept the Yankees ahead and enabled Michael Pineda (5-2) to top Vargas for the second time in a week. The Royals, with the worst record in the AL, have lost five of seven.
Vargas (5-3) began the day with a 2.03 ERA, tied for second-best in the majors. But the lefty fell to 0-7 lifetime against the Yankees when he was tagged by Gardner and Gregorius, the only left-handed hitters in New York’s lineup.
The Royals trailed 3-2 in the seventh and had a runner on second with two outs. Alcides Escobar hit a grounder that second baseman Starlin Castro fielded behind the bag before making a one-hop throw to first baseman Chris Carter.
Umpire Marvin Hudson ruled safe and when Carter briefly turned around to look at him, Jorge Soler kept running and slid home ahead of a late throw. The Yankees challenged the call and were right, taking the apparent tying run off the board.
Carter quickly made up for his near-miscue, hitting a solo homer in the bottom half.
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge went 0 for 3, also drawing a walk and scoring a run. Before the game, the team debuted a new rooting section for the rookie star — The Judge’s Chambers, with 18 fans wearing black robes with his No. 99 in a faux jury box behind his spot in right field.
Pineda gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking one. He threw 98 pitches, 70 for strikes.
Dellin Betances worked the ninth for his third save.
Gardner hit a solo drive in the third, his ninth home run in the last 21 games. The leadoff man didn’t have an RBI in the Yankees’ first 18 games.
Gregorius got his sixth straight hit, a two-run drive into the second deck for a 3-2 lead in the fourth. He was robbed of extra bases in his next at-bat on a running catch by left fielder Jorge Bonifacio.
Bonifacio hit a leadoff homer in the third and the Royals added another run that inning on an RBI double by Escobar.
Kansas City finished 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Lorenzo Cain was hitless in four at-bats and is stuck in his own skid at 0 for 12.
Royals: Manager Ned Yost said there’s no update on RHP Nate Karns, who had fluid around his elbow after Friday’s start. The Royals haven’t announced a starter for Thursday’s series finale. … LF Alex Gordon and wife Jamie welcomed their third child, daughter Joey Lynn. Gordon missed his third game while on the paternity list.
Yankees: All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman (rotator cuff inflammation) and 1B Greg Bird (ankle bruise) are making progress in their recoveries. Both are expected to be out until late May, at the earliest.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA) beat the Yankees with seven scoreless innings last Thursday in Kansas City, striking out 10. He’ll be making his first career start at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81) gave up five runs over five innings last week in a loss to Duffy.
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