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Chase Headley’s homer in eighth gives Yankees win over Indians

Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees

Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees catches a ball hit by Jose Ramirez #11 (not pictured) in the ninth inning at Progressive Field on August 5, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. Credit: Getty Images / David Maxwell

CLEVELAND — The last time Aroldis Chapman pitched off the Progressive Field mound, he allowed one of the most memorable home runs in World Series history.

Then with the Cubs, Chapman surrendered Rajai Davis’ stunning two-out, two-run shot in the eighth inning, allowing the Indians to tie Game 7 and momentarily plunge much of Chicago into depression.

The lefty closer, pitching on fumes, eventually earned the win in the 10-inning victory that gave the Cubs their first Series championship since 1908.

The stakes didn’t compare Saturday night when Chapman, wearing the road grays of the Yankees, came on in the ninth to protect a one-run lead. But drama swirled around him again.

Aided by highlight-reel glovework by Brett Gardner and Ronald Torreyes, Chapman nailed down his 14th save in a 2-1 victory over the Indians that ended the Yankees’ losing streak at four games in front of a sellout crowd of 34,651.

“No, not at all,” Chapman said when he was asked if last November’s Game 7 entered his mind.

Chapman — who struck out Carlos Santana on a slider to end the game one pitch after he nearly hit his second homer of the night — likely was in the minority on that front.

The crazy ninth nearly obscured Chase Headley’s tie-breaking homer in the eighth as the Yankees (58-51) remained three games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. “That’s a big win for us,” Joe Girardi said.

After Michael Brantley’s leadoff single in the ninth, Jose Ramirez launched a drive toward the 19-foot wall in left-center, where Brett Gardner made a leaping catch to rob him of an extra-base hit that very likely would have tied the score.

Off the bat, Chapman said through his translator, “I thought it was going to hit the wall.” He added, “That play right there probably saved the inning.”

“Off the bat I, we, I don’t think anybody was sure what was going to happen,” Gardner said. “So it was a big relief to haul it in and get the ball back in and get that first out of the inning, especially after you had the leadoff single. Torreyes made a huge play right after that.’’

He was referring to Edwin Encarnacion’s flare to rightfield, which second baseman Torreyes dived for and grabbed for the second out.

Santana — who homered in the second to tie it at 1 and nearly hit a full-count pitch over the rightfield fence in the ninth but saw it go foul — then struck out looking at a slider.

Headley’s sixth homer, on a hanging 0-and-1 curveball from Zach McAllister, gave the Yankees the 2-1 lead. He entered the game with a .329/.407/.455 slash line in his previous 44 games and had 11 hits in his previous 31 at-bats.

A bullpen that Girardi called on in the sixth inning — even after starter Jordan Montgomery struck out seven in five dominant innings and retired the last nine he faced — got the job done.

David Robertson pitched two scoreless innings and, after Headley’s homer, Dellin Betances struck out two in a perfect eighth.

“A little disappointed when they pulled me, but we got the win and the bullpen did great,” said Montgomery, who might lose his rotation spot when the Yankees go back to a five-man rotation the next time through. “The plan worked.”

Indians starter Danny Salazar allowed one run and struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings.

In the first inning, Gardner worked a leadoff walk, Aaron Judge lined a one-out single to left and Didi Gregorius sent a 2-and-0 fastball off the top of the centerfield wall for an RBI double and a 1-0 lead.

Gardner led off the third with a walk but was stranded as Headley, Judge and Gregorius struck out. It was the 23rd straight game in which Judge struck out, the longest such streak in the majors this season.

A Yankees offense that scored three runs and struck out 31 times in its previous three games hardly erupted. The Yankees had five hits, including two doubles by Gregorius, and struck out 15 times.

“That’s baseball,” Robertson said. “Just because you’re not scoring runs, it doesn’t mean you can’t win ballgames.”

New York Sports