CLEVELAND -- The Yankees needed to get Indians right-hander Danny Salazar off the mound on Saturday night. Once his overpowering outing came to a close, Chase Headley delivered a go-ahead home run for New York, paving the way for a 2-1 win at Progressive Field that halted Cleveland's nine-game home winning streak.
The decisive blow arrived in the eighth inning, when Zach McAllister took over for Salazar and then yielded the one-out solo shot to Headley to put the Indians behind, 2-1. Salazar was hung with a no-decision after notching a career high in strikeouts (12) and a season high in pitches (112) over his seven dominant frames.
"It was big. We haven't been swinging the bats great," Headley said. "Part of that is us and part of that is their starting pitching. It was a big swing. I wasn't sure when I hit it, but it had enough and fortunately it carried out. It was enough to get us a win."
With the Royals-Mariners game postponed, the loss trimmed the Tribe's lead atop the American League Central to three games over Kansas City. The Yankees held firm to the AL's top Wild Card spot and remained three games back of the Red Sox in the AL East.
"The guy comes out there, gives us seven innings, one run, 12 strikeouts," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said of Salazar. "I mean, he's been doing that consistently the last couple starts since he's been back. It's really nice to see."
Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery also walked away with a no-decision after limiting the Tribe to one run on three hits over five innings. Montgomery, who struck out seven and walked none, flinched only in the second, when Carlos Santana crushed a hanging curveball over the 19-foot wall in left for a home run. The blast was Santana's 16th of the season.
"He kind of leverages the ball downhill," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Montgomery. "And his breaking ball, it was in and out of the zone and we had a really tough time laying off. Once a couple of them got called, then we started to chase it more. Their staff is really good. We made it probably even tougher, because we started going out of the zone more. They really took advantage of that."
The Yankees' only other breakthrough arrived via an RBI double from Didi Gregorius in the first inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gardy's got it: The sellout crowd of 34,651 roared in the ninth as Jose Ramirez lifted a deep fly ball to left field off Aroldis Chapman, sparking images of a possible two-run, walk-off homer. Brett Gardner had a different idea, as the Gold Glove Award-winning outfielder expertly tracked the ball to the wall and timed his leap perfectly on the warning track to take away what could have been an extra-base hit. Ronald Torreyes added a diving catch to steal a hit from the next batter, Edwin Encarnacion.
"When he hit it, I wasn't sure," Gardner said. "I knew it was pretty high and I knew it was going to be really close to being a catchable ball. I just wasn't sure if it was going to land on the track or be halfway up the wall. It's a ball that [Aaron] Judge probably catches without having to jump. I'm fortunate it wasn't hit six inches higher, because it could have been a different result in the game."
"Gardner makes a great play. And then the little bloop right there was a nice diving catch, too," McAllister said. "We had our chances right there. It's just one of those where that's tough. You have to tip your cap. They made good plays and we just missed a home run. There were multiple things where if the ball goes a different way, it's a different ballgame." More >
Ellsbury's dive: After Francisco Lindor led off the sixth with a rocketed single off the wall in right, Brandon Guyer flared a pitch from David Robertson to shallow center. The ball looked destined for the grass until Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury dove to snare it at the last moment. Per Statcast™, the catch probability on the play was 75 percent, making it a 3-Star play for Ellsbury. The catch proved important, considering Michael Brantley followed with a single to left, before Robertson retired the next two batters to escape further harm.
"Just because we're not scoring a lot of runs doesn't mean we can't win ballgames," Robertson said. "The pitching just has to get the job done, and we were able to do that tonight."
"I guess now it was a bad idea. It's one of those things, man. If the pitch is a little lower, Headley either takes or rolls over. Credit to Headley, man. He put a good swing on it. It pretty much won them the ballgame." -- Gomes, on calling back-to-back curves to Headley in the eighth inning
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Right-hander Luis Severino (8-4, 2.98 ERA) is scheduled to work in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. ET series finale at Progressive Field. Severino will start with an extra day of rest after being taxed for 116 pitches over just five innings in his last start, a July 31 outing vs. the Tigers. Severino has won three straight starts and hasn't lost since July 2 at Houston.
Indians: Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (10-4, 3.89 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in a 1:10 p.m. ET tilt with the Yankees on Sunday to conclude this four-game set at Progressive Field. Carrasco is 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA at home this season, and has gone 4-4 with a 3.67 ERA in his career against New York.