- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Miracles are in short supply this season, and the New York Yankees might have had their miracle for the week Tuesday night when they pulled out a 5-4 win in the ninth inning. On Wednesday, they got another excellent starting-pitching performance, this one by Andy Pettitte, and another nonperformance by their offense to lose to the Texas Rangers 3-1 at The Ballpark in Arlington.
What it means: That the Yankees have now lost four of the six games they've played since the All-Star break and six of their past eight overall. It also means that the off-field nonsense involving Alex Rodriguez remains a far more compelling story than the on-field struggles of this lifeless team.
Murphy's Law: Shawn Kelley kept the ball away from Rangers pinch hitter David Murphy for seven pitches, running up a 3-2 count, but he allowed the eighth to leak back over the plate. When it came down, it was 425 feet from home plate, and the Rangers had a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning.
No, really, after you: A funny thing happened in the seventh inning after Pettitte allowed a single to Craig Gentry to give the Rangers runners on first and second with none out. Joe Girardi emerged from the Yankees' dugout, apparently about to remove Pettitte. But he suddenly stopped and retreated because Rangers manager Ron Washington came out to argue with plate umpire Lance Barksdale. Girardi waited patiently on the warning track in front of the Yankees' dugout until Washington was finished, then continued his trip to the mound, lifting Pettitte in favor of Kelley, who put out the fire by getting Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus to pop out. After walking Nelson Cruz to load the bases, he got the dangerous Adrian Beltre to fly out to center.
Getting better: Pettitte, who had lost four of his past six decisions coming in, turned in his best outing in more than a month, holding the Rangers to just two runs over six-plus innings. But, once again, he left without getting a win because the Yankees trailed 2-1 at the time of his departure.
Andy, meet Sandy: Pettitte's strikeout of Mitch Moreland in the second inning tied him with Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax at 2,396 career strikeouts; when Pettitte struck out the next hitter, Geovany Soto, he vaulted into 39th place all by himself. Of course, it took Koufax nearly 1,000 fewer innings than Pettitte to reach that number.
Howdy, pardner: In his first appearance as a Texas Ranger, Matt Garza earned a standing ovation when he left the mound with one out in the eighth, having stifled the Yankees on just five singles and one unearned run over 7⅓ innings. Garza walked none and struck out five, and it was a throwing error in the sixth that led to the Yankees' only run.
Golf shot: Just moments after the Yankees had tied the game at one, the Rangers took a 2-1 lead when A.J. Pierzynski went down to his shoe tops and golfed a 1-2 slider from Pettitte into the right-field seats. It was the third homer Pettitte had given up in his past two starts and 12th allowed this season.
First blood: Pettitte allowed a run in the first inning and was lucky to get off that easily as the Rangers had three hits in the inning. Pierzynski's two-out single scored Kinsler, but Pettitte got Jeff Baker to ground into an inning-ending forceout.
First dud: The Yankees had two hits and two stolen bases, Brett Gardner's 17th and Ichiro Suzuki's 15th, but failed to score when both Robinson Cano and Lyle Overbay struck out and Vernon Wells grounded out to third.
Costly error: Garza turned what should have been a routine groundout by Gardner into a single, a two-base error and an unearned run when he bobbled Gardner's sixth-inning comebacker. Garza then fired into right field, allowing the speedy Gardner to motor all the way to third, and, for a brief instant, consider trying for home when the ball bounced away from catcher Geovany Soto on the throw to third. Garza got the next hitter, but Cano lined one over a drawn-in infield to score Gardner and tie the game at one.
What's next: The Yankees try to avoid losing three of four to the Rangers in Thursday's series finale. Hiroki Kuroda (9-6, 2.65 ERA) opposes lefty Derek Holland (8-5, 3.10). First pitch is at 2:05 p.m.