NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center field off Chad Qualls in the bottom of the ninth inning, driving home Brett Gardner with the only run of the game as the Yankees defeated the Astros, 1-0, on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.
Nathan Eovaldi started for New York and blanked the Astros over eight innings of four-hit ball, striking out seven around three walks. The win was credited to left-hander Andrew Miller, who pitched around a leadoff hit in the ninth to complete the shutout, moving the Yankees back into a tie for first place in the American League East with the idle Blue Jays.
"I think the player of the game today would have to be Eovaldi," Beltran said. "He just pitched an amazing game and he was able to basically chop the opposing team down and allow us to win this one for him, so we're happy about that."
Astros right-hander Scott Feldman turned in a terrific effort of his own, continuing his recent solid run. Feldman limited the Yankees to six singles over eight scoreless innings, walking none and striking out six.
"It was a good game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Unfortunately, we were on the bad end of it. Well-pitched game on both sides. There wasn't a ton of offense to squeeze out, and ultimately they did a little bit more with their opportunities at the very end, obviously. Tough loss, no doubt. We'll have to bounce back tomorrow."
Oliver Perez issued three walks (one intentional) and threw a wild pitch in the ninth, loading the bases and prompting Houston to call upon Qualls.
"We've got guys who don't chase out of the zone," catcher Brian McCann said. "We're going to make you throw strikes. We were able to get three walks in the ninth, and Carlos with the big hit."
The Astros squandered a chance to gain a game in the AL West on the second-place Rangers and third-place Angels, both of whom were off. Houston leads Texas by 3 1/2 games and the Angels by five games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gomez throws out McCann: The Astros escaped a jam in the seventh when center fielder Carlos Gomez caught a fly ball off the bat of Chase Headley and threw out McCann at the plate for an inning-ending double play. Gomez's throw was nearly rolling when it reached the plate, and catcher Hank Conger made a nice stop and applied a difficult tag.
"So I make sure that I throw in the right direction to get him out, and it was a perfect throw and we got him," Gomez said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he had no issue with the send by third-base coach Joe Espada, saying, "I think you have to there." More >
Eovaldi escapes: Showcasing what Girardi thought was Eovaldi's best slider to date, the young righty blanked the Astros through eight frames, wriggling out of a tight spot in the sixth inning and surviving a Headley error in the eighth. It has been the kitchen sink for Eovaldi; his splitter is improving, he has gained confidence with his curveball and he is pitching in with his high-octane fastball. Over his last 12 starts, Eovaldi is 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA.
"I know I needed to be able to step up tonight, help out the bullpen," Eovaldi said. "I'm glad I threw the ball well tonight and we were able to pull it out in the ninth inning and pull through." More >
It takes two: McCann made a strong throw to second base in the ninth inning, catching pinch-runner Jake Marisnick stealing after Luis Valbuena struck out. That spun the frame around for Miller, who had permitted a leadoff single to Evan Gattis and instead had two outs and none on, striking out Chris Carter to get the Yanks up to the plate. McCann credited his work with bullpen coach Gary Tuck.
"We work every single day on it," McCann said. "I've gotten better as the season's gone on. It's good to put the ball on the bag there. ... I'm getting the ball out quick, no wasted movement. He's changed the way I catch, the way I catch and throw."
Feldman's gem continues starters' run: The Astros continue to get great starting pitching, but with the way their offense has been struggling those efforts have often been for naught. Feldman was the latest Astros starter to turn in a gem. Houston starters have a 2.25 ERA in the team's last 19 games.
"Really, ever since we traded for [Scott Kazmir], everybody's been throwing well," Feldman said. "I've got to give a lot of credit to our catchers. They do a great job. They study the hitters better than anybody, and our defense always seems to be in the right position, and hopefully we can keep it going." More >
The Yankees successfully challenged a call at first base in the fifth inning, on what was initially scored as an error and fielder's choice on second baseman Stephen Drew. A review overturned the call, as Drew had recovered the bobble and threw to first base in time to retire Conger.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (14-6, 2.37 ERA) gets the start for the Astros in Tuesday's 6:05 p.m. CT game at Yankee Stadium. He's gone at least six innings in 36 consecutive starts, which is a club record.
Yankees: Right-hander Ivan Nova (5-5, 3.72) takes the ball on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET for his 11th start of the season. He took the loss his last time out vs. Cleveland, allowing three runs and six hits in five innings on Thursday; his shortest start of the year. Nova has faced the Astros once in his career, beating them last April 3 in Houston.