Russell Martin went down the list as the ball came speeding toward the plate, a few ticks ahead of Carlos Pena barreling down the third-base line.
Catch the ball. Get into position. Brace for impact. Hold on.
Check, check, check, and one big check mark.
Martin grabbed Brett Gardner's perfect one-hop throw, absorbed a big hit from Pena and held on for an inning-ending double play in the sixth, helping the New York Yankees edge the Chicago Cubs 4-3 Saturday.
"The first thing is you catch it clean, and when you catch it clean, then you want to just put yourself in position to kind of see where it's coming from," Martin said.
"Really, you just try to use your instincts. You go into survivor mode right there."
The Gardner-to-Martin connection preserved a 3-2 lead and capped a shoddy inning in the field for New York, which committed two errors that allowed Chicago to load the bases with one out.
"It was big to be able to get out of that inning," Gardner said.
Curtis Granderson, who was born in nearby Blue Island, had a tiebreaking sacrifice fly and two hits as the Yankees won for the seventh time in nine games, bouncing back from a 3-1 loss in the opener of their first series at Wrigley Field in eight years.
Granderson's fly ball to deep right gave New York a 3-2 lead in the sixth, but the Yankees almost blew it with lackluster defense behind A.J. Burnett (7-5), who struck out eight in 5 1/3 innings.
Errors on shortstop Eduardo Nunez and second baseman Robinson Cano loaded the bases for Geovany Soto, who hit a sinking liner to left off Cory Wade. Gardner tracked it down and let loose with a strong throw that got to the plate a few strides ahead of Pena, allowing Martin to set up for the collision.
"It was big. Great throw by Gardy and a great tag by Russell," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
A crowd of 42,236 filled Wrigley Field for the middle game of this rare weekend series between two of baseball's most popular teams.