KANSAS CITY -- It was a battle of tired and depleted bullpens.
And the Yankees' bullpen survived the longest. Brian McCann lifted a sacrifice fly for the go-ahead run in the 13th inning as New York overcame an early four-run deficit for a 5-4 win over Kansas City in the rubber game on Wednesday night.
Both teams went to their bullpens early in a 10-inning game on Tuesday when rain delayed that game 59 minutes. The Yankees' bullpen held the Royals to no hits and no runs over the final seven innings on Wednesday. Ben Heller got his first Major League win, while Dellin Betances recorded his seventh save.
"I thought the guys were tremendous," Betances said. "Our whole bullpen did a tremendous job to get in that situation, where if you give up a run the game is over."
The Yankees moved to 2 1/2 games behind the Orioles and Tigers, who are tied for an American League Wild Card spot. The Royals, who had won seven straight series, dropped three games behind the Orioles and Tigers.
The Royals' bullpen gave up just one run over 6 2/3 innings.
"Man, those guys were on fumes," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Going into the day, there was no way I wanted to use [Matt] Strahm, [Joakim] Soria, [Peter] Moylan or [Brian] Flynn. Today was [Moylan's] fourth [straight] day, Flynn is three days, Strahm's never gone back-to-back in his life. CY [Chris Young], we were trying to stay away from him. But these guys, they just go out ... they just compete their tails off. They're just great competitors."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Another Mo bomb:Kendrys Morales homered for the second straight night, jumping on the first pitch he saw from starter Luis Cessa in the first inning and hammering a curve ball over the center-field wall. The two-run homer was his 22nd, tying his total from last year. The jack gave the Royals a 2-0 lead.
"Star" search:Starlin Castro extended his career high with his 19th homer, and the two-run shot off starter Ian Kennedy in the sixth inning got New York back in the game after being blanked over the first five frames. Castro has been swinging a hot bat through most of August, but it has heated up even more of late; he entered play on Wednesday batting .364 (16-for-44) with eight RBIs over the last 10 games.
"He's playing at a really high level," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he's more comfortable at second base. I think he has a better understanding of the American League pitchers, he probably has a better understanding of who they are. He's been really big for us."
Hoz ties career high: Hosmer was just 4-of-24 before he led off the third inning with a drive to left that just stayed fair and crept into the seats for his 19th homer. The solo shot gave the Royals a 4-0 lead. It also matched Hosmer's career high for homers in a season -- he hit 19 in 2011, his rookie season.
"It's a been a long week for us," Hosmer said. "We've had long nights and long games. We can definitely use this off-day [Thursday], rest up and give it one last push."
Chasen excellence: One night after recording his first career save in a five-pitch outing, Chasen Shreve delivered again, keeping the Royals off-balance as he hurled two hitless innings with three strikeouts. Arguably the biggest out that Shreve recorded came on the basepaths, as he stepped off to nail Raul Mondesi stealing third base with one out in the seventh inning. He had plenty of company as one of six relievers who kept Kansas City off the board.
"It just shows you, there's a toughness in there and these guys really want it," Girardi said. "I'm proud of their effort these last two nights, long nights, quick turnaround. Some guys who struggled early on really came up big, Shreve came up big, [Blake] Parker came up big, Heller had a great inning. Just proud of those guys."
"We really thought we had last night's game. And tonight we let this one get away. But we just have to move past it. We have a big series with Detroit this weekend." -- Kennedy, who gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: The Yanks head to Baltimore for a three-game set against the Orioles beginning Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Chad Green (2-3, 4.09 ERA) will get the ball for the series opener. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the O's, giving up seven hits and four runs, but avoided the loss as the Yankees' offense scored 13 runs.
Royals: The Royals will continue their homestand against the Tigers in a crucial three-game series at Kauffman Stadium. Left-hander Danny Duffy (11-2, 3.01) will get the ball for the series opener on Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT. He's pitched in one loss since June 22 and posted a strong 2.51 ERA in six August starts.