NEW YORK - Chris Carter snapped a ninth-inning tie with a colossal three-run homer, extending his second-half power surge and sending the Houston Astros to a 7-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
Marwin Gonzalez knocked in two runs with a pinch-hit single, and the fourth-place Astros (53-73) won for the third time in four meetings with the Yankees this season. Despite a $154 million difference in opening-day payroll, Houston took two of three at home against New York to begin the season.
Brian McCann hit a two-run homer and Martin Prado had three hits for the Yankees, who wasted their first chance to make up ground in the standings during a six-game homestand against a pair of teams with losing records in the Astros and Chicago White Sox.
New York began the night three games out of a playoff spot.
David Robertson (1-4) walked consecutive batters and threw seven straight balls before Carter launched a 3-0 pitch into the raised concrete bleachers in left field for his 30th home run. Carter had struck out in his previous four at-bats in the game.
The reigning AL player of the week came in leading the league with 10 long balls since the All-Star break. He was first in the majors with 29 RBIs during that span.
Josh Fields (3-6) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win on his 29th birthday. With the infield in, Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out at home on a one-out grounder to shortstop by slumping Carlos Beltran.
Chad Qualls worked a perfect ninth for his 14th save.
Tiger Woods was on the field during batting practice before heading to the runway behind the Yankees dugout, where the golf star greeted injured New York pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and then Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler.
Prado singled with two outs in the fourth off starter Brett Oberholtzer before McCann drove an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in right for his 14th homer.
Robbie Grossman hit a two-out RBI single in the fifth, and Houston chased Chris Capuano on his 36th birthday during a three-run sixth. Fowler led off with a triple and scored on Jason Castro's tying groundout. After consecutive singles, both runners moved up when Jake Marisnick's groundout deflected off reliever Adam Warren.
Astros manager Bo Porter pushed the right button, lifting No. 9 batter Gregorio Petit for a left-handed batter even though Petit had doubled in both plate appearances. Gonzalez hit a two-run single that gave Houston a 4-2 lead.
Prado tied it in the bottom half with a two-run double that ended Oberholtzer's night.
Astros: 1B-OF Jesus Guzman was activated from the disabled list and LHP Darin Downs was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Aug. 15, with a strained muscle on his right side. Guzman had been sidelined since Aug. 2 because of back spasms. ... OF Alex Presley, sidelined since July 8 with a strained right oblique, joined the team to receive treatment but will not be activated from the DL for a while.
Yankees: Tanaka (elbow) plans to throw another bullpen Wednesday. ... Manager Joe Girardi said a decision on whether to use RHP David Phelps (elbow inflammation) as a starter or reliever when he gets back probably will depend on how long he's out.
Yankees RHP Michael Pineda (2-2, 1.82 ERA) makes his second start since a long injury layoff in the second game of the series. RHP Scott Feldman (6-9, 4.45) gets the ball for Houston.