HOUSTON - If Nathan Eovaldi was intimidated pitching in front of an icon from his hometown Friday night, it didn't show.
Chris Young, also playing in his hometown, had those pressures too -- and also did just fine.
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Led by the pair of native Texans, the Yankees downed the Astros, 3-2, in front of 37,748 at Minute Maid Park.
Young, who was born in Houston and still resides here, hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Will Harris to give the Yankees (40-34) the lead.
Eovaldi (7-2), up and down all season, turned in one of his best performances, limiting the AL West-leading Astros to two runs and five hits in six innings.
Watching from the first row behind the plate was Nolan Ryan, an Astros adviser and, like Eovaldi, a native of Alvin, Texas. The two are scheduled to meet for the first time Saturday afternoon.
Eovaldi, who said he left about 100 tickets, said he became aware that Ryan was sitting behind the plate when he was shown on the big screen during the game. "Growing up for me, I connected baseball with him,'' Eovaldi said. "In our town, it was Nolan Ryan everything. You'd go to any restaurant, his memorabilia and everything was there."
He added of pitching near home: "A lot of emotions. Just trying not to let them get the best of me and go out and locate my pitches."
Young continued his hot hitting for the Yankees and a career-long trend of scorching work in this ballpark. He went 3-for-4, improving to 43-for-105 (.409) with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 25 games at Minute Maid Park. And that ninth homer -- also his season total -- was huge.
Said Young, who grew up an Astros fan: "It's nice at home. You have me and Evo together, we had a whole section combined. To be able to do it in front of your family, in your hometown, in a city that you grew up coming to baseball games and now you're one of the players on the field, it's always a little special for me."
Astros rookie Vince Velasquez took a 2-0 lead into the seventh against the Yankees, who were shut out Thursday night. Consecutive one-out hits by Carlos Beltran and Garrett Jones ended Velasquez's night as Houston manager A.J. Hinch went with righty Harris to face Young.
Harris, ranked second among all MLB relievers in opponents' batting average (.097), grooved a 1-and-1 fastball that Young ripped over the big wall in left for a 3-2 lead. "That's huge,'' Joe Girardi said. "We hadn't done much up until that point. We had hit some balls hard and it seemed they were standing in the right place. To have that big hit, he's been really hot, and that's why he's playing every day.''
Referring to two Houston-area guys leading the way, Girardi said, "Sometimes you worry about that. They probably left a of tickets. But it's always nice to be able to come home and be able to perform like that.''
Chasen Shreve struck out the side in the seventh, giving him 33 strikeouts in 302/3 innings, and Justin Wilson retired the first two batters in the eighth before walking Luis Valbuena. Joe Girardi brought in Dellin Betances for a four-out save, and after pinch runner Marwin Gonzalez stole second, Betances struck out Evan Gattis, who flailed at a curveball. Betances pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save.
In the third, Hank Conger doubled into the gap in left-center with one out and scored with two outs when Carlos Correa singled. Gardner had a shot at the plodding Conger, but his throw was to the first-base side of the plate, and Brian McCann made a diving tag attempt without catching the ball.
Jose Altuve reached on an infield hit with one out in the sixth, stole second and scored when Gattis blooped a single to center.