MILWAUKEE -- There's no shame in losing to the Brewers, owners of a 23-14 record, tied with the Giants for the best record in baseball. The Yankees won the first game of this series and still have a shot at winning the series and finishing the road trip 4-2.
But there's got to be real alarm about the way they lost this game, and the way CC Sabathia pitched, again. This 5-4 loss was another blow to the Yankees' hopes that at some point Sabathia will regain the form he has not shown for almost three years now.
CC? No, no: Sabathia's line was perhaps the most deceptive in baseball history: 5 1/3 innings, eight hits, four runs, but only one earned -- in truth, even though an error prolonged the Brewers' third inning, there was nothing unearned or cheap about the two massive home runs that followed it (or anything encouraging about Sabathia's inability to make a pitch when he needed to). Sabathia's ERA dropped from 5.75 to 5.28, but so has the hope that he will eventually pull himself out of his slump.
Ace's low: The Brewers scored the go-ahead run on Alfredo Aceves in the seventh inning, on a pair of hits wrapped around a balk. Aceves, making his second appearance of the season -- and first since his 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Rays last Sunday -- allowed a one-out double, smoked over the head of Carlos Beltran, to Jonathan Lucroy. While pitching to Rickie Weeks with two outs, Aceves balked Lucroy to third base, and then allowed a single past Yangervis Solarte at short that scored Milwaukee's fifth run of the game.
Costly bobble: Brendan Ryan, usually an exceptional defensive shortstop, made an inexcusable error on Jean Segura's routine grounder that should have ended the third inning. Instead, it started an avalanche, with the Yankees trailing 4-2 after back-to-back home runs by Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez. That made it three homers allowed in three innings by Sabathia, who has now surrendered a team-high 10 long balls in 43 2/3 innings. Lucroy hit an 0-2 sinker clocked at 89 miles per hour. Ramirez hit the very next pitch out, an 85-mph cutter.
Going, going, Gomez: Carlos Gomez absolutely pulverized Sabathia's third pitch of the game, a fastball over the middle of the plate, off the glass of the Stadium Club high above the left-field seats. It was Gomez's fourth leadoff homer of the season -- he has nine overall -- and it marked the second time in eight starts that Sabathia has been taken deep by the first hitter of the game. The shot was measured at a whopping 462 feet. Incidentally, Gomez practically sprinted around the bases -- no sense in riling up Brian McCann all over again.
Four football fields: And then some. The three home runs -- Lucroy's was measured at 432 feet, Ramirez's at a "mere" 427 -- totaled 1,321 feet, or one foot longer than a quarter-mile's worth of home runs.
Roaring back: The Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the third, helped immensely by a catcher's interference call on Lucroy that put Jacoby Ellsbury on base with two out. Brett Gardner then tripled into the right-field corner to score Ellsbury, and Beltran followed with a liner into left to score Gardner.
No review necessary: Mark Teixeira hit the first pitch of the sixth inning off the top of the left-field wall. It was originally ruled in play, with Teixeira stopping at second, but it was pretty obvious that the ball had hit above the yellow home run stripe. After a visit from Yankees manager Joe Girardi and a brief conference among the umpires, Teixeira had his sixth home run of the season and the Yanks had pulled to within a run, 4-3.
Dealin' Betances: Girardi stuck young Dellin Betances in a tough spot -- bases loaded, one out in the sixth and Gomez coming up second -- and the kid fired his way out of it, striking out an overmatched Scooter Gennett on three pitches and getting Gomez to flail so hard at a curveball his helmet flew off. Another impressive outing for the only native New Yorker on the Yankees.
Binder brilliance: Girardi used three pinch-hitters in the seventh inning, and each of them produced. Kelly Johnson drew a leadoff walk hitting for Ryan, Ichiro Suzuki singled hard to center field hitting for Betances, and Alfonso Soriano fisted a ball to right, beating the shift, to score Johnson with the tying run. But the rally ended there when Beltran rapped into an inning-ending double play.
Tough break: Ramirez, whose two hits in the first three innings made him 12-for-21 (.571) lifetime against Sabathia, left the game with a leg injury suffered on a routine forceout in the top of the fourth.
See ball, hit ball: In his first big-league plate appearance since last Sept. 29, Ryan smacked the first pitch he saw from Brewers starter Kyle Lohse into center field for a single. Ryan also collected an infield hit in the fourth.