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WATCH: New York Yankees blank Houston Astros in series opener

Jul 9, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner (11) hits a two run RBI against the Houston Astros in the fourth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu delivered two-run doubles while Nestor Cortes allowed just two hits for a second consecutive start as the New York Yankees claimed the opener of a three-game road series against the Houston Astros 4-0 on Friday.

The Yankees improved to 3-1 against the Astros this season and have won four of their last five games after dropping seven of eight. After snapping a three-series losing streak in Seattle this week, the Yankees can win a second consecutive series behind ace right-hander Gerrit Cole on Saturday.

Gardner and LeMahieu parlayed exceptional plate discipline into a pair of decisive run-scoring hits. Gardner snapped a scoreless tie with his two-out double in the fourth inning, rallying from an 0-2 hole against Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-4) by working the count full before lacing a fastball to right field, scoring Rougned Odor and Gio Urshela in the process.

Odor extended the inning by beating out a potential double-play grounder, hustling down the line to first base and reaching the bag prior to the throw from Astros shortstop Robel Garcia.

With one out in the seventh, LeMahieu fell behind 0-2 on two curveballs from Astros reliever Bryan Abreu before fouling off four pitches and taking three non-strikes. He then turned on an inside curveball and drove it to left, plating Gardner and Tyler Wade and doubling the lead.

Cortes did not factor into the decision, departing with two outs in the fifth inning after walking Garcia, the nine-hole hitter, for the second time in as many plate appearances. But he pitched effectively nonetheless, limiting the Astros to a Kyle Tucker two-out double in the second inning and an infield single by Yordan Alvarez with two outs in the fourth.

Cortes threw 74 pitches, 42 for strikes. Lucas Luetge (3-1), Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga combined to allow one baserunner over the final 4 1/3 innings to send the Astros to just their second shutout loss this season. Houston mustered only three hits.

–Field Level Media