By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Robinson Cano homered and Eduardo Nunez scored the tiebreaking run after a sixth-inning double to send the New York Yankees past the Houston Astros 5-4 on Wednesday night.
Ben Francisco hit his first home run for New York and three relievers supplied spotless work after fill-in starter David Phelps wasted a four-run lead. Ichiro Suzuki’s double-play grounder put the Yankees ahead and they held on to take two of three games in a series between the teams with the highest and lowest payrolls in the majors.
The active roster New York took into opening day added up to $233 million in salaries, dwarfing a $22 million total for the rebuilding Astros. Still, the banged-up Yankees, missing a cadre of injured All-Stars, didn’t have an easy time scratching out two wins after Houston rolled to a 9-1 rout Monday night.
With the score tied 4-all, Nunez doubled down the left-field line on an 0-2 pitch from Paul Clemens (1-1) to begin the sixth. Nunez advanced on a wild pitch and, with one out and runners at the corners, Wesley Wright was brought in to face Suzuki.
He hit a grounder to second base and Lyle Overbay alertly held up between first and second, forcing Jose Altuve to make his throw to first base to try for a double play.
That eliminated the force at second, though, and Nunez crossed the plate before Overbay was tagged out, giving New York the lead.
Boone Logan (2-1) got four outs for the win. David Robertson struck out two in a perfect eighth and Mariano Rivera closed for his 11th consecutive save to start the season.
After a leadoff single in the ninth, Brandon Barnes was running on the pitch when Matt Dominguez hit a line drive that was caught by a leaping Cano at second base. Cano easily tagged Barnes for an unassisted double play, and Rivera whiffed Marwin Gonzalez on three pitches to end it.
Astros starter Erik Bedard fell behind after 11 pitches when Suzuki hit a leadoff triple and scored on Jayson Nix’s single. The left-hander walked three straight to start the second inning but permitted only Chris Stewart’s sacrifice fly.
Cano led off the third and sent an 0-2 breaking ball a few rows beyond the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center for his eighth home run of the year. Two outs later, Francisco homered to left for his first RBI in 30 at-bats with the Yankees.
Pitching in place of injured Ivan Nova, Phelps cruised through three innings on 34 pitches and had faced the minimum after 10 batters _ including a double-play grounder. But the right-hander suddenly came undone with one out in the fourth.
Altuve singled and Jason Castro grounded a double off the glove of a diving Nix at third base. Carlos Pena put the Astros on the board with an RBI single up the middle that could have been handled by Nunez at the edge of the outfield grass.
Phelps plunked two consecutive batters with pitches, forcing in a run, and Brandon Barnes beat out a potential double-play grounder to drive in another. Dominguez’s RBI single tied it 4-all before Phelps struck out Gonzalez, finally ending a 30-pitch inning.
Phelps was pulled after 5 2-3 innings. He allowed eight hits and struck out five, throwing 58 of 87 pitches for strikes.
Logan retired Gonzalez on a grounder with a runner at second to end the sixth.
Bedard, who entered with a 7.98 ERA, gave up six hits and walked four over four innings in his 13th career start against New York but first at the new Yankee Stadium.
NOTES: Houston will recall RHP Jordan Lyles from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start Thursday night against AL champion Detroit. A corresponding roster move will be made before the opener of a 10-game homestand, the Astros’ longest of the season. … With C Francisco Cervelli sidelined by a broken right hand, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said veteran Chris Stewart will get most of the playing time over rookie Austin Romine because Stewart knows the pitching staff. … With his team facing a left-handed starter, Girardi rested CF Brett Gardner in favor of Suzuki, who was hitting .407 (11 for 27) in his previous seven games. Suzuki started in center and batted leadoff for the second time this season. Gardner struck out as a pinch hitter to end the fifth, then remained in the game in center as Suzuki shifted to right. Gardner stole two bases in the eighth, one on a pitchout.
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