CLEVELAND — Things had been better for reliever Vinnie Pestano since he returned from the minor leagues.
Until Wednesday night.
Pestano, who had not allowed a run in eight games since his recall from Triple-A Columbus, surrendered a solo home run in the 14th inning to Jacoby Ellsbury that propelled the Yankees to a 5-4 victory at Progressive Field.
Pestano took over for left-hander Marc Rzepczysnki with one out in the 14th, and Ellsbury connected on an 0-2 pitch to snap an 18-inning scoreless streak for Cleveland’s bullpen.
“Vinnie got ahead of Ellsbury 0-2 and tried to bury a breaking ball and left it over the middle,” manager Terry Francona said. “And that’s the game.”
“I had him 0-2. I was in control of the at-bat,” Pestano said. “When you throw a pitch like that to a hitter like that, you need to get it down. He did what he gets paid to do. You can’t make that mistake in that situation, but you can’t take it back. You’ve just got to learn from it and put it in the memory bank.”
Since returning from the minors, Pestano had been limited to facing mostly right-handed hitters, but Francona let him face the left-handed-hitting Ellsbury.
“When you get in a game like this, you really can’t pick and choose too much,” Francona said. “I wanted to get him through to (Derek) Jeter. It didn’t work.”
The starting pitchers, Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin and New York’s Brandon McCarthy, allowed four runs apiece, but only one earned run was charged to McCarthy, who was making his first start for the Yankees since being acquired in a trade with Arizona.
The Indians scored three unearned runs in the first inning off McCarthy, who allowed hits to two of the first three batters, before an error on first baseman Mark Teixeira loaded the bases.
Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out to score the first run of the game, with Nick Swisher delivering a two-run single to cap the inning.
Teixeira redeemed himself in a big way, hitting home runs off Tomlin in consecutive innings. The second, a two-run shot, put New York in front for the first time at 4-3 in the fifth.
“I just made some mistakes to one hitter and I paid for it,” said Tomlin, who had limited Teixeira to a .200 (2-for-10) average prior to the game. “I just didn’t execute the pitches that I needed to.”
Cleveland countered quickly, tying the game in the bottom of the inning on a two-out single from Carlos Santana.
The game stayed scoreless until the 14th, though both teams had opportunities to win it in the 10th.
The Yankees put the first two aboard against closer Cody Allen, but the right-hander bounced back to retire three straight, striking out Ichiro Suzuki to end the threat.
The Indians squandered a better chance, with former Cleveland pitcher David Huff walking the bases loaded with one out. Swisher failed to deliver first, striking out swinging, and David Murphy grounded out to end the inning.
The Indians threatened to answer in the 14th. Jason Kipnis singled off right-hander David Robertson with one out, then stole second base to move into scoring position. Asdrubal Cabrera, who had three hits on the night, struck out, leaving the game in the hands of All-Star Michael Brantley.
Brantley drove a pitch to left field that Zoilo Almonte flagged down over his shoulder for the final out.