NEW YORK -- From various vantage points at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees could not tell if Alcides Escobar was out or safe after first baseman Chris Carter made a nice scoop of Starlin Castro's off-balance throw in the seventh inning.
Not from the dugout, not from third base and not from left field.
But they knew it was worthy of a challenge. Shortly there was enough evidence to show Carter's nice play would be rewarded.
Carter made a run-saving defensive play to end the top of the seventh and hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning as New York beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Monday night.
The Yankees led 3-2 with two outs in the seventh with Adam Warren pitching. They appeared to lose the lead when Escobar hit a ground ball up the middle and slightly to the left of second base.
"That's always the hardest play for me to see," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Of course we're going to replay (challenge) that because it's the tying run if we think that we have a shot. So as soon as the play happens, I put my hand up.
"I didn't know if he was safe or out, and the replay we got up on the board didn't really help us. So we had to rely on them and they made it pretty quick."
Castro had to move several steps to field the ball and Escobar's speed forced him to make an off-balance throw to Carter.
The throw bounced and Carter scooped the ball just as Escobar reached the bag and Jorge Soler slid headfirst into home plate. Initially, first-base umpire Marvin Hudson called Escobar safe and the score was tied. The Yankees immediately challenged, and less than a minute later, the call was overturned.
"That was a big play," New York third baseman Chase Headley said. "Obviously a good runner, a ball up the middle. They did a good job running the bases. Fortunately, we got him, I guess. We couldn't see the replay."
It marked the 12th time the Yankees challenged a call this season and the 10th time they got a call overturned.
"It was a great pick," left fielder Brett Gardner said. "I didn't see the actual replay. I think it was very close, just a huge play."
"It was a bang-bang play," Headley said. "I couldn't tell live if he got him or not. Fortunately, it went our way."
The Royals accepted the ruling after consulting with their replay coordinator Bill Duplissea, who told manager Ned Yost that Escobar was out.
Moments later, Carter slugged an 0-1 pitch from Seth Maness over the left-center-field wall for the final run. Carter's third home run ended an 0-for-14 skid.
Michael Pineda (5-2) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings to get the win. Warren recorded the final two outs of the seventh, Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect eighth and Dellin Betances posted his third save.
Jorge Bonifacio homered and Escobar hit an RBI double for the Royals, who were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The Royals wasted their biggest chance after Eric Hosmer opened the fourth with a double and Salvador Perez was retired in a 12-pitch at-bat.
"We had opportunities. Three times we had runners at second base, two times with one out, and one time after (Hosmer) led off with a double," Yost said. "And we just couldn't capitalize on that."
Vargas allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. He fell to 0-7 in his career against the Yankees.
"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 took a 2-0 lead when Bonifacio opened the third inning by hitting an 0-1 fastball into the left field seats and Escobar doubled down the left field line past a diving attempt by Headley.
The Yankees made it 2-1 when Gardner slugged a 2-2 pitch into the right field seats with one out in the third.
New York took a 3-2 lead when Gregorius drove a 1-1 pitch halfway up the second deck in right field.
NOTES: Kansas City OF Alex Gordon's wife gave birth to the couple's third child Monday. Gordon is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday. ... Yankees 1B Greg Bird (bruised right ankle) began some baseball activities by taking dry swings. He could progress to batting practice by this weekend and rehab games next week. ... Kansas City manager Ned Yost said RHP Nate Karns (forearm stiffness) is feeling better, but the team has not decided if he will make his next scheduled start. ... New York OF/1B Tyler Austin (fractured left ankle) went 1-for-3 in his third rehab game with Double-A Trenton. ... The Yankees added a small section in right field consisting of 18 seats called "The Judge's Chambers" in honor of RF Aaron Judge. "It's pretty unreal," Judge said.