HOUSTON -- Mark Teixeira's two-run double off Pat Neshek in the eighth inning proved to be the difference as the Yankees blew a big advantage, then reclaimed the lead and held on for a wild 9-6 victory over the Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
Brian McCann hit a grand slam and Chris Young homered to build a big lead against Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer, whose afternoon ended with an ejection in the second for throwing at Alex Rodriguez. The Astros got it all back, pounding Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for a career-high six earned runs on seven hits, including three home runs.
"It was just kind of one of those old-fashioned slugfests," Teixeira said. "Whoever was going to get the big hit at the end of the game was going to win, and we did."
Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve hit back-to-back homers in the fifth off Tanaka, who also served up a long blast to Chris Carter in the fourth. The three home runs tied a career high for Tanaka, who has served up 13 runs (11 earned) and six homers in his last two starts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED McCann slam: Five batters into the game, the Yankees wielded a 4-0 lead courtesy of McCann's first grand slam in pinstripes, a titanic shot to right field that landed in the second deck. It was McCann's 11th career grand slam, the most recent of which had been hit on June 23, 2013, as a member of the Braves at Milwaukee. Young added to his outstanding lifetime numbers at Minute Maid Park an inning later, belting a two-run homer to left field.
"I got a great pitch to hit," McCann said. "He hung me a changeup that was middle of the plate. I was able to put a good swing on it, so it was good. Hitting a grand slam is a great feeling."
Oberholtzer's early exit: Oberholtzer's start -- the shortest of his three-year Major League career -- ended after he threw inside to Rodriguez with one out in the second, earning an ejection from home-plate umpire Rob Drake. The two home runs he allowed prior to the ejection were a season high and the three walks in the first inning were one off his season high, which he set in his last start against the Angels. Oberholtzer, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno after the game, said he did not intentionally throw at Rodriguez. More >
"In the previous three starts I had success going in, unfortunately I missed my spot pretty bad," Oberholtzer said. "I think the situation escalated because it was A-Rod and because Young hit a home run previously on a changeup away. A lot of these guys' approach is to stand close on the plate and hack. That's what McCann did, Young's a good example. A-Rod's a great hitter. He made a name for himself in the big leagues for a long time."
Tanaka gives it all back: The Yankees could be concerned about Tanaka, who is pitching with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and has been thumped his last two times out by the Tigers and Astros. He became the first Yankee to allow three or more homers and six or more runs in consecutive starts since Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez in 2001. More >
"It was a tough game," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I just kept on missing my spots, wasn't able to do what I wanted to do. That's probably the reason why I wasn't able to get into a good rhythm."
Middle infield ignites rally: Correa made three sparkling defensive plays in the fifth to retire the bottom of the Yankees' order before crushing an opposite-field home run off Tanaka to cut the deficit to one. His double-play partner Altuve followed with a drive into the Crawford Boxes, going down and golfing Tanaka's 0-1 pitch into left field, giving the Astros back-to-back home runs for the fifth time this season. More >
"I like the chemistry they're starting to develop up the middle on defense," manager A.J. Hinch said of the duo. "Hitting them back to back in whatever order is going to be something we're going to see for a long time. They feed off each other, they're developing a nice friendship, a nice trust in that second base-shortstop position and it's key to have."
"I'm going on the record and saying that's not how we operate around here. Obviously for all the adrenaline that goes on at the beginning of the game when we're getting down, we don't operate that way, we won't operate that way. It's not a reflection of anyone around here, including [Oberholtzer]. The Yankees know, I'll make sure Alex knows. There's no place in our game for that kind of activity." -- Hinch, on the Oberholtzer/Rodriguez incident
"No, because the stuff is there. We've seen it. He's just had a couple of rough outings. We've got to get it right. The first three outings he had, we were saying his stuff was as good as it had been. He's had a couple of rough ones. It's hard to put my finger on it, but we'll figure it out." -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi, on if he is worried about Tanaka
Hinch used one of his challenges in the first inning when Luis Valbuena was called out on the back end of a 4-6-3 double-play ball. The call was overturned and Valbuena was ruled safe at first on a fielder's choice.
Hinch used his second challenge in the eighth when Brett Gardner slid hard into Altuve at second on Young's grounder and was ruled safe by second-base umpire Joe West. After review, it was ruled that the call stands and Gardner remained at second.
"It's kind of a weird play," Gardner said. "My cleat got tangled up in his shoelace and he was jumping up, so he pulled my foot way up in the air. I wasn't sure if I was safe or out, to be honest."
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Michael Pineda (8-4, 4.25 ERA) will try to gain some consistency in what has been an up-and-down stretch for him, taking the start in the 2:10 p.m. ET contest against the Astros on Sunday. Pineda is coming off an outing in which he established career highs in runs (eight) and hits (11) in a loss to the Phillies.
Astros:Collin McHugh (8-3, 4.80 ERA) will try for his third straight win in the series finale on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT. McHugh was strong in his last start, tossing a season-high eight innings while allowing just two runs and nine hits against the Angels.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.