Austin Romine drove in the winning run in the 10th inning with his third RBI single, and the New York Yankees overcame a bullpen collapse that followed another scoreless start by James Paxton to beat the Kansas City Royals 7-6 Sunday.
After adding All-Star slugger Aaron Judge to their ever-growing injury list, the Yankees escaped a couple late jams and got back over .500.
Jake Diekman (0-1) walked Mike Tauchman and Gio Urshela leading off the bottom of the 10th, and 23-year-old Thairo Estrada made his big league debut as a pinch hitter and sacrificed against Ian Kennedy.
Romine drove a fly that bounced on the center-field warning track for his first career walk-off hit.
Judge became New York’s major league-high 13th player on the injured list, a day after straining his left oblique muscle. Manager Aaron Boone called the injury “pretty significant” without giving a timeframe for the outfielder’s return.
With most of the Bronx Bombers out for repair, Clint Frazier started for the first time in the majors as a cleanup man and hit a three-run homer for a 5-0 lead in the fifth. He has six home runs and 17 RBIs in his return from a concussion that wrecked his 2017 season.
Paxton allowed three hits and became only the second Yankees pitcher to strike out 12 or more in consecutive starts. He left with a 5-0 lead but the Royals went ahead with a surprising six-run eighth. They loaded the bases against Chad Green, and Adam Ottavino gave up Adalberto Mondesi’s two-run double, Alex Gordon’s three-run homer and Hunter Dozier’s home run off the back of the right-field bullpen on the next pitch.
Tauchman doubled off Wily Peralta leading off the bottom half and tied the score 6-6 on Romine’s two-out single.
Aroldis Chapman allowed a leadoff single in the ninth to Billy Hamilton, who stole second and third but was stranded when Mondesi struck out and Alex Gordon flied out. Frazier stranded Brett Gardner at third when he struck out against Scott Barlow in the bottom of the ninth and snapped his bat over a leg in frustration.
Zack Britton (1-0) gave up a leadoff single to Dozier in the 10th and picked off speedy pinch runner Terrance Gore, causing concern when the reliever appeared to turn an ankle while applying the tag at first to end a rundown. Britton then got a pair of called third strikes, giving New York pitchers 20 strikeouts.
New York improved to 11-10, its first winning record since it was 5-4. The Yankees headed on a nine-game western trip after a 6-3 homestand.
Paxton induced 18 swings and misses plus a pair of foul tips for strike three. He fanned 12 and walked one in six-plus innings.
The 30-year-old lefty had a fastball last Tuesday that averaged 97 mph when he pitched eight innings of two-hit ball with 12 strikeouts in an 8-0 win over Boston. His heater averaged about 95 mph against the Royals, and he mixed in curveballs and sliders that bewildered batters.
New York’s only previous pitcher with 12 or more strikeouts in back-to-back starts was in the broadcast booth calling this game for the YES Network: David Cone struck out 14 against Florida on June 7, 1998, and a dozen versus Cleveland seven days later. Paxton reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time in consecutive games and the 13th time overall.
New York went ahead when DJ LeMahieu doubled leading off and scored from third on a passed by Martin Maldonado. Mike Ford hit an opposite-field double to left-center in the second, his first big league hit after an 0-for-6 start, and scored on Romine’s single.
Royals starter Jorge Lopez allowed five runs _ four earned _ in seven innings.