Defensive replacement Jake Marisnick made a perfect throw from left field to nail Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate for the final out and the Houston Astros held off the New York Yankees 3-2 on Thursday night in a matchup between teams with the best records in baseball.
Unbeaten Dallas Keuchel (6-0) became the first six-game winner in the majors, helped by a home run from Carlos Correa. The Astros won their fourth in a row and improved to 24-11 - their top mark after 35 games since the franchise began playing in 1962.
Ken Giles wound up with his 10th save in 11 tries, saved by Marisnick.
Ellsbury's single with two outs in the ninth inning put runners at the corners, and then the fleet leadoff hitter stole second. Gary Sanchez followed with a sharp RBI single to left and Marisnick, who came into the game in the seventh, fired a strike to catcher Brian McCann to get the sliding Ellsbury.
Carlos Beltran and McCann were quiet in their return to Yankee Stadium, the former New York power hitters going hitless in seven at-bats for Houston. The Astros didn't need much hitting behind the bearded Keuchel.
Keuchel kept up his resurgence, striking out nine in six innings. He earned the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, but dipped to 9-12 last season. Overall, he's won eight straight dating to last August, matching a career high.
Keuchel once again throttled the Yankees, improving to 5-2 with a 1.24 ERA against them. Those totals include a win at Yankee Stadium in the 2015 AL wild-card game.
The 29-year-old lefty permitted just one run, and it was unearned. First baseman Yuli Gurriel dropped an easy toss for an error in the fifth and trailing 3-0, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out.
After Chris Carter struck out swinging on a full count, Ellsbury reached base on catcher's interference, tipping McCann's glove. Ellsbury has a knack for this - he's done it 28 times in his career, one behind the record set by Pete Rose.
Keuchel limited the damage by retiring Sanchez on a slow grounder, with third baseman Alex Bregman swooping in to make a nice play. Keuchel escaped a first-and-third, no-out jam in the sixth by fanning Aaron Judge, Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius.
Michael Pineda (3-2) pitched into the seventh. He fell behind in the first when Correa lined a two-run drive over the wall in right-center, making the Astros star 6 for 9 with three homers against the right-hander.
Correa later singled and walked. After a slow start this season, he's hitting .353 with four homers, 10 doubles and 17 RBIs in his last 17 games.
The Yankees recalled RHP Giovanny Gallegos from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for his first stint in the majors. At 25, it's his sixth year in pro ball.
Astros: OF Teoscar Hernandez (knee bruise) and RHP David Paulino (forearm tightness) started rehab assignments with Triple-A Fresno on Thursday.
Yankees: 1B Greg Bird (bruised ankle) was set to get checked by a doctor. He's been on the DL since May 2.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers (2-1, 3.40 ERA) has struck out 50 in 42 1/3 innings this year. His dad, Lance, pitched for the Yankees in 1989-90.
Yankees: Rookie LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 3.81) worked into the seventh inning to win at Wrigley Field last weekend