The Yankees' late rally fell short as their nine-game winning streak was snapped with a 2-1 loss to the defending World Series champion Houston Astros on Monday at Minute Maid Park. >> Box score
After struggling for the first seven innings off Charlie Morton, the Yankees had the tying and go-ahead runs on base after Brett Gardner's RBI single in the top of the eighth inning off Chris Devenski, but Didi Gregorius struck out with runners on first and second to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth inning, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks all struck out against Ken Giles, as the Yankees were held to one run for the third time this season.
New York didn't have a hit off Morton (4-0) until Austin Romine's single in the sixth inning and hadn't had a baserunner reach second base until Gleyber Torres' two-out double in the top of the eighth. Morton struck out 10 batters and allowed two hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Sonny Gray allowed two runs, four hits and three walks in six innings, tying his longest outing of the season. Gray (1-2) allowed George Springer to score in the first inning on back-to-back groundouts following a leadoff single and a balk.
In the fourth inning, Yuli Gurriel hit an RBI double that gave Houston a two-run lead, but Gray pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with a Marwin Gonzalez strikeout and Brian McCann lineout.
The Yankees should be pleased with Gray's performance, but unfortunately it came against Morton, a pitcher currently delivering peak production.
In the moral victory department, enter Gray. The Yankees' beleaguered right-hander had been scuttling along all season, showing very good stuff at times, but was almost always overshadowed by a lack of confidence. Gray wasn't at his best, however he finally changed tactics by attacking the top part of the strike zone more than at any time this season and it was effective.
The Yankees will hope Gray can build on this performance, which came against one of the better offensive teams in the game and in their building. Gray simply has to understand what worked Monday, be confident it will work again and translate it to his next start.
Jordon Montgomery (2-0, 3.76 ERA) and the Yankees face Justin Verlander (4-0, 1.36 ERA) and the Astros in the second game of a four-game series on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. at Minute Maid Park.