NEW YORK -- The regular season has been such a rousing success for the Yankees that even fourth-string backups and little-known minor leaguers are getting in on the fun.
That's just fine with A.J. Burnett, who has plenty of whipped cream for all of them.
Burnett pitched well in an encouraging playoff tuneup and New York rallied for two runs in the ninth inning Tuesday night, beating the Kansas City Royals 4-3 for its seventh straight victory.
"I'm just really confident now. I feel good," Burnett said. "I knew I'd be strong with the extra day. My mind's pretty clear out there. I'm just going with the flow of the game."
Miranda raised his arms in jubilation as he crossed the bag and the AL East champions rushed out of the dugout to celebrate as if they'd just won a playoff series. The custom all season, Burnett pasted Miranda in the face with a whipped cream pie during his television interview on the field.
Nine players have game-ending hits for the Yankees this year, including two rookies who spent most of the season in the minors: Miranda and Francisco Cervelli.
Following its big league-best 15th walk-off win, New York (102-56) is 46 games above .500 for the first time since finishing 114-48 in 1998. With a 57-23 record at home, the Yankees said they matched the record for most victories at a ballpark in its first season -- Boston went 57-20 at Fenway Park in 1912, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
New York's 50th comeback victory, also tops in the majors, cost Anthony Lerew his first major league win. Called up from Double-A last week, Lerew quieted a Yankees lineup filled mostly with regulars. He yielded only solo homers to Teixeira and Nick Swisher in six-plus innings.
"He deserved a lot better. He was outstanding. He maintained his composure really well," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Looking for his 100th career win, Burnett allowed two runs -- one earned -- and three hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
More important, the hard-throwing right-hander has strung together three solid starts following six weeks of inconsistency. He was originally scheduled to pitch Monday but his turn was pushed back a day so he could be with his father, who had triple bypass surgery.
Burnett is slated to start the regular-season finale Sunday at Tampa Bay, following CC Sabathia on Friday and Andy Pettitte on Saturday. That would put Burnett in line to pitch Game 3 of New York's first-round playoff series -- but that order could change.
With their opponent and schedule still to be determined, the Yankees have not committed to a postseason rotation beyond giving the ball to Sabathia in the opener.
"If I'm going to pitch in the postseason I definitely have to go one pitch at a time," Burnett said, estimating that his struggles were 80 percent mental. "That's just me. A little bit of the streakiness was due to mechanics. But we looked at some video and straightened out some kinks."
Another good sign for New York was the return of reliever David Robertson, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 5 because of elbow stiffness. Robertson entered to start the eighth and struck out No. 3 batter Billy Butler before getting a groundout and issuing a walk.
"The elbow felt good. Didn't have any problems. Felt like normal," Robertson said.
The right-hander was lifted for Brian Bruney (5-0), who tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Cano entered on defense in the ninth and tied it 3-all with a sacrifice fly against Farnsworth, who also failed to field Cervelli's one-out infield single.
"Routine plays like that open up big innings sometimes," Farnsworth said. "That's what happened."
Burnett issued a leadoff walk in the seventh and was pulled with one out after throwing 108 pitches. He received a warm ovation and tipped his cap to the crowd of 44,794.
"The prize is next month and that's what I told him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
A beanball war between the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants has the potential to spill over into Wednesday's series finale, with neither manager saying the book was closed after there were three hit batsmen and two ejections Tuesday night.
Rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi will be activated from the San Diego Padres' 10-day disabled list Wednesday morning to face the Oakland A's in the finale of an abbreviated, two-game homestand at Petco Park.
When he starts Wednesday against the New York Mets, Chad Bettis will try to build off his last game for the Colorado Rockies, one that included a deceptively bad pitching line that masked an abrupt turnaround.
Priorities? The Giants literally hurt themselves and risked hurting other players by going after a rookie hitting .180.
Stephen Piscotty homered with two outs in the ninth inning to tie the game and Jed Lowie hit a two-run shot with two outs in the 10th to lift the Oakland Athletics over the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Tuesday night.
Mike Trout drove in two runs, Kole Calhoun and Ian Kinsler added solo homers and the Los Angeles Angels held on for a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.