HOUSTON -- The New York Yankees caught a glimpse of their future on Friday night when right-hander David Robertson emerged from the visiting dugout instead of retiring closer Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead.
The crowd of 29,486, split evenly between fans of both teams, booed.
After the Yankees survived a rocky seventh inning, Robertson nailed down the victory to help send the Houston Astros to their franchise-record 13th consecutive loss with a 3-2 win at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros (51-109) have scored two or fewer runs 11 times and are averaging 1.6 runs during their skid. They stranded seven base runners and mustered only five at-bats with runners in scoring position.
"You can't worry about the wins and the losses at the end of the day," Astros first baseman Brett Wallace said. "You can't look every night at your schedule or record and feel sorry for yourself or panic and think you have to get a certain amount of wins, but obviously the goal is to keep getting better every day and learn how to win these close games."
With New York (83-77) leading 3-0, right-hander Joba Chamberlain entered in relief of David Phelps and inherited two base runners with two outs in the seventh. Chamberlain promptly surrendered a two-run double on the first pitch to the pinch-hitting Wallace before allowing a single to Jonathan Villar and walking Jose Altuve to load the bases.
Chamberlain recovered to induce a harmless fly ball to center field from third baseman Matt Dominguez to stall the rally.
Preston Claiborne and Robertson pitched one hitless inning apiece to preserve the victory. Robertson picked up his third save of the season in place of Rivera, who was unavailable after pitching in relief on Thursday night in the Bronx.
"I definitely heard the boos as I was coming in," Robertson said. "I just tried to push it out of my head and tried to make some good pitches.
"I did not take any of the boos personally. I can understand why the fans would want to see Mariano. There's two games left now ... and fans kind of hope to see him pitch again. But we'll see what happens."
Yankees right-hander Adam Warren (3-2) posted his fifth scoreless outing since Sept. 9, limiting Houston to two hits and one walk with four strikeouts in five innings. I
Both Houston hits were singles, and while a walk to Marc Krauss in the third ultimately led to Warren pitching with runners on the corners and two outs, he retired Carlos Corporan to stifle that modest threat.
Warren has filled a variety of roles for the Yankees down the stretch, and with their rotation in flux heading into the offseason, he tossed his name in the hat for consideration for a prominent position in 2014.
"I think it should give him a lot of confidence for next year for what he's done for our club this year in a lot of different roles that we've used him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Warren. "Very pleased with the step forward he took this year and he needs to build on it."
The Yankees turned a throwing error on Dominguez into a three-run fourth inning against left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (4-5).
Robinson Cano started the rally with a one-out single and scored when Mark Reynolds delivered a run-scoring single to left field. Dominguez cut off the throw home from Trevor Crowe and fired low to the Corporan at the plate, allowing Alfonso Soriano and Reynolds to advance one base each. David Adams followed with a two-run double for a 3-0 lead.
"I tried to do too much," Dominguez said. "I should have cut it and kept the guys at second and first. Those are things you can't do if you want to be a winning ballclub.
"It ended up turning out to be a pretty big play, and I'll make sure I don't do that again."
NOTES: Girardi is considering playing RHP Mariano Rivera in the outfield for one inning this series. Rivera is retiring after 19 seasons with the Yankees. The career leader in saves (652), games finished (952) and ERA (2.05), Rivera has toyed with the idea of playing center field. ... 1B Chris Carter closed his first season in Houston batting .279 with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs in 75 road games. Among American League players in road games, he ranks third in RBI, fourth in homers and sixth in slugging.