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Chris Young's walk-off three-run homer lifts Yankees

Chris Young of the Yankees celebrates his game-winning,

Chris Young of the Yankees celebrates his game-winning, ninth-inning, three-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

If the Yankees somehow pull off a miracle and make the playoffs, Chris Young is going to get his own Yankeeography. How about that?

The former Mets outfielder -- who was the fans' symbol of all that's wrong in Flushing this season -- broke up Alex Cobb's no-hitter with a one-out double in the eighth inning and then hit a walk-off three-run homer in the ninth to give the Yankees a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday night at the Stadium.

It was a most unlikely turn of events for a player the Mets released Aug. 15 after he compiled a .205/.283/.346 slash line with eight home runs in 254 at-bats.

"This game never makes sense," manager Joe Girardi said. "A lot of times we try to make sense of it. When you figure it out, let me know."

No one who watched Young struggle with the Mets for four months could have foreseen this triumphant moment.

With runners on second and third and one out in the ninth, he connected on a 97-mph fastball from lefthander Jake McGee, and there was no doubt that the ball was headed over the leftfield wall. What made it even more unlikely is that McGee hadn't allowed a home run in 76 innings dating to last season.

Young said it felt as if he were "floating on a cloud" upon seeing the ball clear the fence and hearing the fans cheer for him. He has no idea how he made it around the bases.

He laughed when asked if this was the high point of his season. Of course it was. "I don't even remember running around the bases," he said. "All I really remember was hitting the ball and being at home plate. I don't remember the rest. I don't even know if I was fully there."

There's no question that Young has been fully there for the Yankees, and then some. Given a stretch of regular at-bats in place of the injured Brett Gardner, he went 6-for-11 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs in the three-game series.

After coming back from a 4-0 deficit for the second straight night, the Yankees moved within four games of the Tigers in the race for the second wild card. They have 18 games left.

But it wasn't all positive for the Yankees on this night. They suffered yet another significant injury, and in the game's scariest fashion. Chase Headley was hit in the jaw by a 96-mph fastball by McGee leading off the ninth. He managed to walk off the field with help and Girardi said he was headed for facial X-rays.

Derek Jeter was hit in the left elbow by a fastball from Brad Boxberger in the eighth, and he bounced around in foul territory in obvious pain. Jeter stayed in the game and X-rays were negative, but Girardi wasn't sure if he will be able to play Friday.

The Yankees' comeback would not have been possible without an unlikely assist from Martin Prado, who wasn't even supposed to play.

After Young snapped Cobb's no-hit bid with a one-out double to right-center in the eighth, the Rays brought in Boxberger and Girardi sent up Prado to bat for Brendan Ryan.

Bothered by a hamstring strain for more than a week, Prado was supposed to attempt to run for the first time in four days before the game. Girardi hoped he would be available to play Friday. But the timeline moved up, and Prado launched a two-run homer to leftfield. In his last 19 games, he's 28-for-72 (.389) with five homers and 13 RBIs.

The Rays' Yunel Escobar hit two homers off Michael Pineda, a three-run shot with two outs in the fourth and a solo blast in the seventh.

The Yankees still have not been held hitless by one pitcher at Yankee Stadium since Detroit's Virgil Trucks in 1952. The last time the Yankees were no-hit by a single pitcher was by the Orioles' Hoyt Wilhelm in 1958 in Baltimore. Six Astros pitchers (Roy Oswalt, Peter Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner) threw a no-hitter against the Yankees at the Stadium on June 11, 2003.

Cobb's outing was no aberration. In eight previous starts against the Yankees, he was 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA and an 0.865 WHIP and had allowed 36 hits in 562/3 innings.

New York Sports