NEW YORK -- Alex Bregman bounded into the dugout and excitedly tugged at the front of his uniform jersey. On the night when the Yankees retired Derek Jeter's number, the Astros' No. 2 slugged a first-inning grand slam that helped lead his club to a 10-7 victory and a split of Sunday's doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
"It was really special just to be able to contribute to a team win and be able to get us off to a good start in the first inning," said Bregman, who clubbed his first homer of the season. "We wanted to get ahead and get a lead early in the game, and I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on the ball."
Bregman wears the digit in homage to the Yankees legend, and his first career grand slam was one of three first-inning homers off Masahiro Tanaka. George Springer and Josh Reddick cracked back-to-back shots to open the game as Houston batted around in the first inning.
"It was as great series win," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "This is a good team across the way, and we had some interesting games, but to come here and play in this ballpark and win three out of four, especially including a doubleheader in which we had to scratch and claw both games, that's a good series win."
Springer added a second homer in the second inning as the Astros bounced back from an 11-6 loss in the first game of the twin bill. Lacking both his splitter and slider, Tanaka was rocked for a career-high eight runs in 1 2/3 innings, and the right-hander left the field to a chorus of boos after Carlos Beltran chased him with an RBI double.
"There's times like this during the season, and you just have to battle through it," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "They took some really good swings on pitches, and I think they were flat."
Houston starter Charlie Morton allowed four runs on four hits while striking out 10 over 5 2/3 innings as the Astros (26-12) took three out of four games in the series. They have the best record in the Major Leagues.
Matt Holliday was one of the few Yankees to solve Morton, hitting a three-run homer in the fifth inning. Brett Gardner went 6-for-9 with two doubles and a homer in the doubleheader for the Yanks, who brought the potential tying run to the plate against Ken Giles in the ninth.
"Our starting pitchers had a tough time in this series," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We gave ourselves a shot in the ninth here. It wasn't how we wanted this series to go, but to me, we had a chance in three of the four games. We didn't get the big hit when we needed it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bang, bang: After settling for nine hits -- all singles -- in Game 1 of the doubleheader, the Astros came out swinging against Tanaka in Game 2, with Springer and Reddick hitting back-to-back homers to start the game. Per Elias Sports, the last time the Astros had hit consecutive homers to lead off a game was on June 9, 2006, when Craig Biggio and Mike Lamb did it vs. the Braves.
"We really come out and made a big impact early," Hinch said. "We got some pitches to hit. We know what [Tanaka is] going to pitch and how he's going to pitch. We faced him quite a bit. When he did make mistakes, we did damage. George's first at-bat set the tone. It was a long at-bat. He saw every pitch that he had. It was a nice, emotional lift at the very first hitter of the game. Reddick followed suit, and the inning continued to get better and better."
Sir Charles: Morton, flashing a fastball that touched 99 mph on more than one occasion, allowed a leadoff single to Gardner in the first before striking out the next seven batters he faced. Morton fell one strikeout shy of the team record of eight consecutive strikeouts, set by Don Wilson in the second game of a doubleheader on July 14, 1968, at Cincinnati and matched by Jim Deshaies on Sept. 23, 1986, against the Dodgers in Houston. (Deshaies struck out the first eight hitters of the game, an MLB record).
"I felt like that was some of the best stuff I ever had in terms of raw stuff," said Morton, who wound up allowing four runs in the fifth. "It was making some pitches and that fifth inning, you go from one extreme to the other. It's frustrating."
"We were joking with him that he needed to get a home run before National League games started because a pitcher might catch him." -- Hinch, on Bregman's first homer of the season
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Beltran's double in the second inning was the 545th of his career, breaking a tie with Jeter and moving into sole possession of 31st on the all-time doubles list.
Bregman is the first player wearing No. 2 to hit a grand slam at Yankee Stadium since Jeter on June 18, 2005, vs. the Cubs, according to ESPN.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Joe Musgrove (2-3, 5.02 ERA) will start for the Astros in Monday's 6:10 p.m. CT series opener against the Marlins at Marlins Park. This will be the Astros' first trip to Miami since 2012, when they were still in the National League. This will also be their first game in an NL park this season, which means they won't be able to use a designated hitter..
Yankees: Following an off-day on Monday, the Yankees begin a three-game series with the Royals on Tuesday in Kansas City. Left-hander CC Sabathia (2-2, 5.77 ERA) is set to face right-hander Jason Hammel (1-4, 5.97 ERA) in the opener, with first pitch set for 8:15 p.m. ET.