NEW YORK — The first momentous thing Chris Young did Thursday night was spoil Alex Cobb's bid for a no-hitter, saving the Yankees some embarrassment.
Then, he gave them a scintillating victory.
Young doubled in the eighth inning for New York's first hit and launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth that rallied the Yankees to a 5-4 victory over the stunned Tampa Bay Rays.
"It feels like you're floating on a cloud. I don't even remember it, to be honest with you," said Young, swarmed by happy teammates and doused with an orange sports drink during his postgame television interview. "All I remember is hitting the ball and being at home plate."
Pinch-hitter Martin Prado connected for a two-run shot immediately after Cobb was pulled in the eighth, and the Yankees took two of three in the series by climbing out of a four-run hole for the second consecutive night — the only times they've done that all season.
Young homered off closer Jake McGee with one out to win it. Clinging to slim playoff hopes, the Yankees finished 5-4 on their penultimate homestand to move within four games of Detroit for the second AL wild card with 18 remaining. Three other teams are between them and the Tigers.
Yunel Escobar homered twice and drove in four runs for Tampa Bay.
Young's one-out double ended Cobb's attempt to become the first visiting pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium since Virgil Trucks did it for the Detroit Tigers in 1952. Six pitchers combined on a no-hitter for the Houston Astros in the Bronx on June 11, 2003.
"Wow. I don't think it's actually set in yet," Cobb said.
He was lifted after Young's opposite-field drive up the right-center alley on his 102nd pitch. The right-hander with the funky windup, on quite a roll lately, received a warm hand from a crowd of 32,627 that included former Yankees great Mariano Rivera.
"It was tough to break it up at that point," said Cobb, who was a little surprised to be taken out. "At that point I was still in game mode. I looked up at the video board and saw that it was a pretty decent pitch, so I wasn't too upset about it."
Prado, on the bench because of a sore hamstring, homered off Brad Boxberger to trim Tampa Bay's lead to 4-2.
Moments later, Derek Jeter was hit by a pitch in the left elbow and bent over in obvious pain. Jeter stayed in the game, and X-rays were negative. He said he was fine.
New York got a bigger scare in the ninth when Chase Headley was struck on the chin by a 98 mph fastball from McGee (4-2). Headley stayed down on his back for a couple of minutes as he was attended to by two trainers.
With blood trickling down his chin, Headley sat up and walked off the field with both trainers. He was taken to a hospital for further evaluation.
"It doesn't appear he will need stitches. His teeth are all there. I still think you have to get his jaw X-rayed," manager Joe Girardi said, adding that Headley would not travel with the team to Baltimore but could join the Yankees there at some point Friday.
Ichiro Suzuki followed with a double and Young, released last month by the crosstown Mets after a season-long slump, drove an 0-1 pitch to left field for his latest big hit in pinstripes this week.
He's made three starts for the Yankees, all as an injury fill-in during the Tampa Bay series, and finished a triple shy of the cycle Wednesday night.
"He's done an awful lot. They said he was a talented player who had a rough year this year," Girardi said. "It's amazing how things can turn around for a player. ... That's a huge hit for us."
Shawn Kelley (3-5) got two outs for the win.
Cobb hasn't yielded more than two runs in any of his past 12 starts, a club record and the longest active streak in the majors.
Escobar connected twice off starter Michael Pineda, including a three-run shot, for the first multihomer game of his career.
It was Young's sixth career game-ending homer and New York's fourth of the season. His previous one came on Aug. 11, 2011, with Arizona.
Cobb is 5-1 with a 1.69 ERA in nine starts against the Yankees.
The Yankees said Cobb's gem was the deepest a Tampa Bay pitcher has gone without allowing a hit since Matt Garza pitched the team's only no-hitter against Detroit on July 26, 2010, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Rays: Manager Joe Maddon said there was nothing new to report on ailing CF Desmond Jennings (sore left knee), who might miss the rest of the season. Jennings sat out his 13th consecutive game.
Yankees: LF Brett Gardner missed his fifth straight game with an abdominal injury. Girardi said he hopes Gardner might be able to play this weekend. ... DH-OF Carlos Beltran (right elbow) sat out for the second straight game.
Rays: RHP Nathan Karns looks for his first major league win when he makes his Tampa Bay debut Friday night in Toronto. Karns made three starts for Washington last year.
Yankees: RHP Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 2.79 ERA) and rookie RHP Bryan Mitchell will be the starters Friday when the Yankees begin a seven-game road trip with a day-night doubleheader at first-place Baltimore. Mitchell has pitched in one big league game, out of the bullpen on Aug. 10, but was primarily a starter in the minors.
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