Beltran, strong pen bail out Eovaldi

Not a lot of good stuff has happened to the Yankees in Oakland recently, so Saturday night’s 5-3 victory over the Athletics was more than welcomed. It was only the third victory for the Yanks in their past 13 games at O.co Coliseum.

Carlos Beltran, finishing up a productive May, came up big for the Yankees and helped them overcome a shaky outing by Nathan Eovaldi. The righthander gave up three runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings, but Beltran’s bat triggered the Yankees’ comeback.

Eovaldi is tough to figure. He can ring up the radar gun with the best of them, but hitters seem to be able to make good contact against him. Eovaldi has allowed 76 hits in 57 1/3 innings with opposing hitters batting .325 against him.

Considering all the base runners the A’s had while Eovaldi was in the game, the Yankees were lucky to be trailing by only one run, 3-2, when the game turned in their favor in the sixth inning. That was due in part to some first-rate defense by Ramon Flores in his major-league debut.

Playing left field as Brett Gardner moved to center, the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up got in the mix right away as he protected a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a strong throw to cut down Marcus Semien at the plate trying to score. Catcher Brian McCann made a splendid play in gloving Flores’ throw slightly up the line and swipe tagging Semien a moment before he reached the plate. Big Mac had put the Yankees in front in the top half of the inning with a two-out, RBI single that ran his hitting streak and RBI streak to eight games each.

In the second inning, Flores made a diving catch in foul territory after a long run of a drive by Eric Sogard. But there was nothing Flores could do to save Eovaldi from himself when he gave up four hits and two runs in the third inning. A two-out single in the fourth by Semien pushed Oakland’s lead to 3-1.

The Yankees were stymied by Jesse Hahn, who recorded 10 outs in a row before Jose Pirela singled on a ball that Sogard playing second base bobbled. Third baseman Brett Lawrie dropped a hard liner by Brett Gardner for an error, and Chase Headley got a clutch single to bring the Yankees to 3-2.

Eovaldi’s night was over after he gave up a two-out single in the fifth, which removed any chance he had of getting a winning decision since he did not last five full innings. The bullpen then did a masterful salvation job.

Chasen Shreve struck out all four batters he faced and was the pitcher of record on the winning side when the Yankees moved in front in the sixth. Pitching too carefully to McCann, Hahn walked him on four pitches. Beltran then clobbered a 0-1 fastball over the center field fence for a 4-3 Yankees lead.

Beltran’s fourth home run of the season was the only extra-base hit of the game. The other nine hits by the Yankees and all 12 by the A’s were singles. Beltran wasn’t finished, either. The Yankees got an insurance run in the eighth, thanks to smart base running by Mark Teixeira.

No one would mistake Tex for a sprinter, but when the A’s did not hold him close at first base after a leadoff single he stole second. After an infield out moved Teixeira to third base, he scored on a single to left by Beltran.

After an April in which he batted .162 with five doubles, one triple and seven RBI, Beltran has turned his season around in May in which he is hitting .308 with seven doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI.

With a lead in place, the pen took it from there. Justin Wilson got the first two outs of the eighth. Dellin Betances got three of his four outs by strikeouts. Andrew Miller pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to make it 15-for-15 in saves. In all, four Yankees relievers faced 14 batters and retired 13 of them, eight by Ks.

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