A win Friday night, however, would extend the Houston Astros ' losing streak to their longest in franchise history.
New York hits the road looking to hand Houston its 13th consecutive defeat.
The Yankees (82-77) continue to limp to the finish following a 4-0 home loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday, completing a three-game sweep in which they were outscored 19-3. It was also their ninth loss in 12 contests.
But Rivera's final home appearance provided a highlight in what has been a roller-coaster year for the Yankees.
Rivera, who came on in the eighth with one out, retired all four batters he faced before teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came to the mound to remove him instead of manager Joe Girardi , setting the stage for an emotional farewell.
"I was bombarded with emotions and feelings," Rivera said. "Everything hit. I knew that's the last time. Period."
Houston has planned a pregame ceremony for Sunday's contest that will include former Yankees manager Joe Torre as well as Roger Clemens . Rivera has thrown 5 1-3 shutout innings over six career appearances against the Astros, converting all five save opportunities.
Girardi said prior to Thursday's game that he may let Rivera play center field for an inning during the series.
"In my mind, thinking that he's going to want to pitch, it would be a situation that I might bring him in (in) the eighth to play the outfield and close him out in the ninth if we have that opportunity," Girardi said.
Before honoring Rivera, however, the Astros (51-108) are trying to avoid what would be the longest losing streak in club history. While the Yankees have struggled lately, they're 10-2 all-time against Houston and took two of three in New York from April 29-May 1.
Houston's 7-3 defeat at Texas on Wednesday established a single-season franchise record for losses and baseball's most since 111 by Arizona in 2004.
"It's not fun at all. We go out there and want to win, but it's not happening. We're going to have to fix things and come back stronger next year," center fielder Brandon Barnes said. "I believe in the guys in this clubhouse, and there are guys coming up who can do the job."
Rookie left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (4-4, 2.71 ERA) figures to give the Astros a chance, though he'll need more offense behind him. He's lost his last three starts despite a 2.50 ERA, receiving three runs of support over 18 innings.
His last defeat - in a 2-1 final at Cleveland last Friday - came despite the fact that he didn't surrender an earned run in six innings. Instead, three errors contributed to two unearned runs.
"If we made a couple of defensive plays, we arguably could be standing here with a 1-0 victory," manager Bo Porter told the team's official website. "He pitched that well. He continues to grind and make pitches and give us big performances."
The Yankees have yet to name a starter since moving Pettitte's scheduled start to Saturday.
Ichiro Suzuki is batting .460 in 11 career games against the Astros and went 5 for 9 in two meetings earlier this year.
|New York Yankees|
|September 21, 2013||CC Sabathia||60-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|September 14, 2013||Alfonso Soriano||Day-to-Day||Sprained right thumb|
|September 12, 2013||Brett Gardner||Day-to-Day||Left game - Oblique|
|September 08, 2013||Derek Jeter||60-Day DL||Left ankle soreness|
|September 08, 2013||Chris Stewart||Day-to-Day||Left game - left foot contusion|
|September 07, 2013||Vidal Nuno||60-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|September 19, 2013||Matt Dominguez||Day-to-Day||Hand|
|September 17, 2013||Jason Castro||15-Day DL||Cyst on right knee|
|September 08, 2013||Paul Clemens||Day-to-Day||Blister, right hand|
|September 02, 2013||Jason Castro||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right knee sprain|
|August 22, 2013||Max Stassi||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 22, 2013||Max Stassi||15-Day DL||Concussion|
HOUSTON (AP) -- The crowd at Minute Maid Park on Friday night was filled with New York Yankees fans.
Despite that, when David Robertson emerged from the bullpen in left-center field in the ninth inning, boos rained down on him and didn't stop until well after he'd thrown his first pitch.
It wasn't anything personal. The Yankees fans were simply hoping for another chance to watch Mariano Rivera close out a game.
Robertson got the save as Rivera looked on, and the Yankees got a glimpse of their future in a 3-2 win over Houston on that sent the Astros to their team-record 13th consecutive loss.
"I did not take any of the boos personally," Robertson said. "I can understand why the fans would want to see Mariano. There's two games left now ... and fans kind of hope to see him pitch again. But we'll see what happens."
After the game, New York manager Joe Girardi said Rivera told him he wasn't available to pitch on Friday, a night after Rivera's emotional farewell at Yankee Stadium. Girardi will check with him again on Saturday.
Girardi said the 43-year-old Rivera can play center field this weekend if he wants to.
"I'll talk to him every day to see what he wants to do," the manager explained. "I know he's talked about playing some center field, but I know he has some concerns about his leg. That's really up to him. If he wants to do it, he can do it. I'm OK with it."
David Adams hit a two-run double and Mark Reynolds also drove in a run for the Yankees, who stopped a four-game losing streak.
Houston dropped to 51-109, the most losses for a major league team since the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks went 51-111.
The Astros' 322 losses over three seasons are the fifth-most in big league history according to STATS, ahead of only the 1962-64 New York Mets (340), the 1963-65 Mets (332), the 1915-17 Philadelphia Athletics (324) and the 1940-42 Philadelphia Phillies (323).
"It's been real tough losing 13 straight," Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez said. "Hopefully we can come out tomorrow and Sunday and get wins and end the year on a good note, build a bit more confidence heading into spring training."
Adam Warren (3-2) allowed two hits and struck out four in five scoreless innings as New York started the final series of a disappointing season in which the team failed to reach the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years.
"I think it should give him a lot of confidence for next year for what he's done for our club this year in a lot of different roles that we've used him," Girardi said of Warren, who has mostly pitched in relief this season. "Very pleased with the step forward he took this year and he needs to build on it."
David Phelps gave up Brett Wallace 's two-run double in the seventh, and Joba Chamberlain struggled before Preston Clairborne and Robertson closed it out.
Robertson, who got his third save, figures to inherit the closer role Rivera has held since 1997. He's looking for a better reception when he takes the mound next season.
"I really hope so," he said.
Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer (4-5) yielded three runs - two earned - and five hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Robinson Cano singled with one out in the fourth, Alfonso Soriano walked and Reynolds singled to drive in the go-ahead run. Dominguez's error allowed Soriano, and Adams doubled just inside the fence in the left-field corner.
Houston struck out seven times, increasing its franchise-record total this season to 1,511. They are 18 shy of Arizona's record, set in 2010.
NOTES: New York's Andy Pettitte will make his final start before retiring on Saturday against Paul Clemens . The 41-year-old Pettitte, who is from nearby Deer Park, played for the Astros from 2004-06. "To be able to make my last start here in my hometown is going to be extremely special," he said. "Everybody that I've grown up with ... and that instilled things in me is going to be here. So it's going to be a really exciting day for me. And it's fitting, I believe." The Astros honored Pettitte in the middle of the fifth inning on Friday night by presenting him with the framed No. 21 jersey he wore when he played in Houston.