NEW YORK — Justin Verlander tamed the Yankees again, slowing down the highest-scoring team in the majors and pitching the Houston Astros past New York 5-1 Monday.
Verlander exited in the seventh inning with a major league-best 1.11 ERA. J.D. Davis hit an early three-run homer and Jose Altuve had a solo drive, helping Houston win for the sixth time in eight games.
Closer Ken Giles, tagged Sunday as the Astros blew a five-run lead in the ninth at Cleveland, pitched the final inning and worked around a leadoff single.
Facing the only club in baseball that hasn't been shut out this season, Verlander (7-2) blanked the Yankees until Greg Bird hit a leadoff home run in the seventh.
As he left, Verlander took off his cap and waved it toward a solid contingent of Astros fans wearing bright orange behind the dugout.
Verlander has done this before against the Yankees, especially lately. He was the MVP of the AL Championship Series last October, going 2-0 and limiting New York to one run in 16 innings while striking out 21.
Earlier this month, Verlander pitched eight shutout innings against the Yankees and fanned 14. This time, Verlander allowed five hits in 6 [2/3] innings, fanning five without a walk.
In 12 starts this year, the big righty has permitted only 10 earned runs.
Yet for all the heat Verlander brought to the plate, the best toss he made might've been a throw in the opposite direction. The Astros led 3-0 when the Yankees put runners at first and second with two outs in the second.
With Miguel Andujar at the plate, Verlander pivoted and picked rookie Gleyber Torres off second base to escape.
Davis hit his first homer of the season, connecting in the second off Domingo German (0-3). Altuve, whose team-record run of 10 straight hits ended Sunday, added his fourth in the eighth.
Torres has been swinging a sizzling bat, and manager Aaron Boone moved him up to fifth, his highest spot in the lineup yet. The 21-year-old newcomer had an adventuresome afternoon.
Torres singled off Verlander, but got picked off. He nonchalanted a throw from second base, and the errant toss set up Evan Gattis' RBI single in the fourth — Torres flung his glove in the dugout when the inning was over. Torres also made two acrobatic catches ranging into shallow center field.
Astros: OF Derek Fisher, out with what the team says is "gastrointestinal discomfort," started a rehab assignment at Triple-A Fresno.
Yankees: Slugger Giancarlo Stanton didn't start, a day after striking out in all four at-bats against the Angels, dropping his batting average to .246. Boone said it was merely a day off, just "a logical thing." Stanton led the majors with 59 homers last year with Miami — he has 11 homers this season. Boone said he wasn't worried about Stanton, "but there's always the adjustment thing."
Astros: RHP Charlie Morton (7-0, 2.04 ERA) struck out 10 in a victory over the Yankees on April 30. He started and beat New York in Game 7 of the ALCS last October, pitching five shutout innings.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.55) started and took the loss vs. Houston in Game 7 of the ALCS last October, allowing one run in 3 [1/3] innings.