Rivera watches finale as Yankees win in 14

Chad Conine, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- The New York Yankees seemed reticent to let Mariano Rivera's career end.
In the 14th inning Sunday, Yankees first baseman Mark Reynolds slammed a solo home run to left field, propelling New York to a 5-1 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Reynolds' home run, on a 1-1 pitch with no outs in the top of the 14th, ended five innings of scoreless baseball for both teams. Eduardo Nunez added a two-run double and J.R. Murphy singled to left to score Nunez, extending the lead to four runs, and New York closed out the victory.
"It's been kind of an interesting year, and to go 14 innings on the last day in a 1-1 game ...," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But it's good to end on a good note."
Rivera, the retiring Yankees closer who made a dramatic exit from the mound at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, explained to the Houston crowd before the game his decision not to play against the Astros.
There was talk that Rivera wanted to play center field in Houston, but the 43-year-old veteran decided to pass on the chance.
"I want to make sure that I apologize to the organization, the Houston Astros, to the players, to the real fans here in Houston because I couldn't compete on my last three days of the season against you guys," Rivera said. "The reason why I do that is because I want to leave with the game that I played there in Yankee Stadium. I want to keep that memory in mind."
The Astros honored Rivera with a ceremony highlighted by speeches from Joe Torre and Roger Clemens. The Astros presented Rivera with a No. 42 painting featuring a collage of 13 highlights of his career coinciding with his 13 All-Star Game appearances.
Torre attributed his longevity as the Yankees' manager to relying on Rivera to close games.
"Trust me," he said. "You don't get a chance to manage for George Steinbrenner for 12 years unless you have somebody like this who's coming out of that bullpen."
After the game, Rivera said he came to Houston to support and spend time with his Yankees teammates, not to pitch or play the outfield.
He also said he was ready to walk away.
"No sadness at all," Rivera said. "I think I did everything that I could."
With the question of whether Rivera would come running out of the bullpen one more time answered, the Astros and Yankees got on with finishing up the season.
Though it took a while.
Astros starter Erik Bedard shut down the Yankees (85-77) through the first seven innings, allowing just three hits and five baserunners while striking out nine.
Houston (51-111) grabbed a one-run edge in the first. Jonathan Villar led off the game with a double to left, and he scored on Matt Dominguez's single to left.
The Houston bullpen failed to hold the lead. With one out in the eighth, Nunez doubled to left off reliever Josh Zeid. After Murphy struck out for the second out, Astros reliever Kevin Chapman entered and gave up a Curtis Granderson single to center that scored Nunez and tied the game at 1.
Nunez finished with three hits, while Brendan Ryan and Zoilo Almonte had two hits apiece for New York.
The Astros managed just four hits as a team.
Lucas Harrell (6-17) blanked the Yankees for four innings before giving up four runs in the 14th. Matt Daley (1-0) tossed two shutout innings to earn the win. David Robertson pitched the bottom of the 14th in a non-save situation.
NOTES: Houston opened and closed the 2013 season in dramatic fashion in its ballpark. The Astros defeated the Texas Rangers 8-2 in the major league season opener on March 31. Houston then closed the season by honoring Rivera in his final game. ... The Yankees finished with their fewest wins in a 162-game season since the 1992 campaign, when they went 76-86. New York missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 but extended its streak of winning seasons to 21, the second longest stretch in big-league history. The longest is the Yankees' run of 39 straight winning seasons from 1926-64. ... New York swept the Astros for the second time in two all-time trips to Houston, improving its road record against the Astros to 6-0.

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