- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) - At this rate, the New York Yankees might want to build a rooting space for Brett Gardner, too.

Gardner kept up his power surge from the leadoff spot, and Didi Gregorius and Chris Carter also homered Monday night as the Yankees beat Jason Vargas again in a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Before the game, the Yankees debuted a new fan section for rookie slugger Aaron Judge - The Judge’s Chambers, with 18 people wearing black judicial robes with his No. 99 in a faux jury box behind his spot in right field.

While Judge went 0 for 3, Gardner hit his ninth home run in the last 21 games, lining a solo drive in the third inning. The leadoff man didn’t have an RBI in the Yankees‘ first 18 games.

“Just been consistent at the plate,” he said.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi smiled at the prospect of a place set aside for Gardner.

“He’s had a big cheering section for a long time,” he said. “Would you make them ‘Gardeners?”

Judge said it wasn’t such a far-fetched idea.

“It might be coming next, you don’t know,” he said, smiling.

A reversed call in the seventh kept the Yankees ahead and enabled Michael Pineda (5-2) to top Vargas for the second time in a week. The Royals, with the worst record in the AL, have lost five of seven.

Vargas (5-3) began the day with a 2.03 ERA, tied for second-best in the majors. But the lefty fell to 0-7 lifetime against the Yankees when he was tagged by Gardner and Gregorius, the only left-handed hitters in New York’s lineup.

Last week, Vargas lost to Pineda and the Yankees 11-7 in Kansas City.

“I definitely felt like I was able to make pitches tonight and I wasn’t wasting pitches, like I did last time out,” Vargas said.

“But, when you come off the field and you’re losing the ballgame, you didn’t do your job.”

The Royals trailed 3-2 in the seventh and had a runner on second with two outs. Alcides Escobar hit a grounder that second baseman Starlin Castro fielded behind the bag before making a one-hop throw to Carter at first.

Umpire Marvin Hudson ruled safe and when Carter briefly turned around to look at him, Jorge Soler kept running and slid home ahead of a late throw. The Yankees challenged the call and were right, taking the apparent tying run off the board.

Carter quickly made up for his near-miscue, hitting a solo homer in the bottom half.

Pineda gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Dellin Betances worked the ninth for his third save.

Gregorius got his sixth straight hit, a two-run drive into the second deck for a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

Jorge Bonifacio hit a leadoff homer in the third and the Royals added another run that inning on an RBI double by Escobar.

CLEANUP MAN

Girardi was in the dugout while coaches were exchanging the lineup cards when he suddenly was summoned by umpire crew chief Jerry Layne. Moments later, Girardi was wiping dirt off the dish.

Girardi was ejected last weekend at Tampa Bay during an animated argument that included him covering the plate with dirt. This time, Layne - who’s known the skipper since the days when he was a big league catcher - playfully told Girardi that he’d “set a bad example” for kids and “that I should clean the plate.”

SKIDDING

The Royals went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and are 1 for 30 in those situations during their four-game road trip.

HAVING HOPE

The Yankees began their ninth annual HOPE Week, when every player on the team takes part in events that honor people and groups who serve their community. The Yankees happen to be 29-10 during HOPE Weeks, and have won 17 of the last 19.

MOVING UP

Prized Yankees prospect Gleyber Torres has moved up to Triple-A. The 20-year-old infielder hit .273 with five homers in 32 games at Double-A. “We have a lot of belief in him,” Girardi said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals LF Alex Gordon and wife Jamie welcomed their third child, daughter Joey Lynn. Gordon missed his third game while on the paternity list.

UP NEXT

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (3-3, 2.97 ERA) beat the Yankees with seven scoreless innings last Thursday in Kansas City, striking out 10.

Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 4.81) gave up five runs over five innings in the loss to Duffy.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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