Those were the killers. His Yankees teammates had scratched out three runs in the top of the sixth inning to knot the game against the Kansas City Royals at three. Then, Phelps walked Billy Butler and Alex Gordon to start the bottom of the inning. Perez, picking on a pitch that probably wasn't even a strike, then slammed an 0-1 delivery over the fence in left, and the Yankees were on their way to an 8-4 loss that had Phelps feeling worse than anyone else in a subdued visitor's clubhouse.
"Those were the two biggest at-bats of the game," said Phelps (1-4), whose team has lost his past five road starts. "We had just scored three runs. Worst kind of teammate right there. We have all the momentum right there, and in nine pitches, I give it right back."
It didn't help anybody's mood that the ball Perez hit wasn't even a strike.
"It was down and in," Phelps said. "I was shocked that he hit it like he did. But you got to hand it to him. He put a pretty good swing on it. It was down at his shoetops."
It didn't look like a strike from where manager Joe Girardi was standing.
"The two walks really hurt him," Girardi said. "Then the pitch to Perez is down and in -- not even a strike -- and he hits it out of the ballpark."
One pitch after Perez's home run, Lorenzo Cain tripled and later scored on an RBI single for a 7-3 lead which must have seemed massive to the run-impoverished Yankees attack.
"I was just trying to be too fine. I was trying to be a little too perfect," Phelps said. "I've got to trust my stuff and just throw the ball over the plate. I'm making the game a lot harder than it needs to be."
Some good news: Carlos Beltran got his first hit since coming back from the DL, breaking an 0-for-9 slide with an RBI double that keyed the three-run sixth. Before the game, Girardi predicted the switch-hitting designated hitter would shake off the rust and start helping an offense that needs all the help it can muster.
"It's always good once you do something good to help the team," Beltran said. "Unfortunately, we just didn't win this one. They pitched a good game. So hopefully tomorrow we come back."
Day by day, Beltran said. he's feeling a big more comfortable.
"A little better. I feel a little better. Every day I come to the ballpark and go to the cage and work on my swing and try to get the rhythm and get the timing. The only way I'm going to get it is by playing."
So how close is he to 100 percent?
"One day, two days isn't going to do it. You have to basically play every time, and with playing time that will come. I cannot tell you. I wish I could know."
Solarte comes up big: Yangervis Solarte drove in two runs for the first time since May 11 at Milwaukee. He also had a double and scored in the ninth.