The error bug bit Eduardo Nunez -- again.
And it cost the Yankees.
Here's how: Thanks to a monstrous two-run homer by Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees trailed Tampa by one run going into the ninth Friday night. Joba Chamberlain was called on to keep the Rays at bay. With two outs and a runner on second, Evan Longoria struck a grounder to Nunez that the shortstop tried to play to the side. But he missed, allowing Desmond Jennings to score and put Tampa up 6-4.
It's the same margin by which the Rays eventually won, knocking the Yankees into second place in the American League East with the O's playing a late-night game in Oakland.
After Nunez made the error, several Yankees talked to the 25-year-old, who had his fair share of defensive issues earlier in the season.
"You've got to manage that frustration," Joe Girardi said. "There were a lot of guys that went up to him right away. He's played pretty well these two days, and you don't want that one to snowball."
Nunez was sent down earlier in the season because he'd become a liability in the field, committing four errors in the first 20 games of the year.
So how does Girardi make sure Nunez doesn't lose his confidence?
"We'll continue to talk to the kid," the manager said.
On the positive side, Nunez made two strong plays in the hole in the third and got a chance to show off his arm. CC Sabathia and A-Rod made a point of giving him a "glove-five" after his effort.
PETTITTE SET: It's all systems go for Andy Pettitte.
The 40-year-old lefty threw off a mound, did some fielding work and covered first base before Friday's game against Tampa. He's set to make his first start since he suffered a broken ankle in late June on Tuesday against Toronto.
"I feel like I tried to [run] a lot harder [than previous rehab stints], and I'm ready to get back out there," Pettitte said.
He will be limited to about 70 pitches in the start.