NEW YORK – Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run homer, and David Phelps pitched the Yankees to a fast start in the second half, leading New York to a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran had two-out RBI for the Yankees, who began a 10-game homestand by winning the opener of an interleague series against a National League contender. New York, with a major league-high 40 home games after the All-Star break, improved to 19-23 at Yankee Stadium.
Dellin Betances struck out three in 1 2/3 perfect innings, and David Robertson got three outs for his 24th save in 26 chances.
Phelps (4-4) gave up three runs – two earned – and six hits in 6 1/3 innings against a lineup missing injured thumpers Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. The right-hander struck out seven and walked one for his first win since June 19 against Toronto, which preceded four straight no-decisions.
It was the kind of performance New York needs from the unheralded fill-ins in its injury-ravaged rotation.
Brayan Pena, subbing for Votto at first base, homered twice for the Reds. Mike Leake (7-8) allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings.
With the score tied 2-all, Derek Jeter singled to start the fifth, and Ellsbury lined a 1-1 pitch to the short porch in right field for his seventh home run.
Brett Gardner was hit on the left foot by Leake’s third pitch. Shaken up a bit, he was checked by manager Joe Girardi and a trainer before remaining in the game.
Gardner stole second and scored on McCann’s two-out double.
Jeter’s leadoff single in the third deflected off third baseman Todd Frazier. Ellsbury also singled before Beltran, just activated from the seven-day concussion list, came through with a two-out single.
Pena connected off Phelps to start the third and seventh for his first career multihomer game.
Cincinnati tied it at 2 in the fourth, capitalizing on errors by Brian Roberts at second base and Jeter at shortstop. Devin Mesoraco had an RBI grounder, but Phelps prevented further damage.
Notes: Cincinnati will start All-Star pitchers in the final two games of the series. RHP Alfredo Simon (12-3, 2.70 ERA) goes today, when RHP Brandon McCarthy makes his home debut for the Yankees. RHP Johnny Cueto (10-6, 2.13) faces New York RHP Hiroki Kuroda (6-6, 4.10) on Sunday. ... Votto (strained muscle above left knee) is eligible to come off the DL on Monday, but there is no timetable for his return. ... Skip Schumaker hopes to return from a concussion this weekend. ... Jeter made his 2,610th career start at shortstop, passing Omar Vizquel for the most in major league history. ... The Yankees will honor Jeter during a ceremony before their Sept. 7 home game.