NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi didn't want to say this was a must-sweep week or even a must-win week.
"With six weeks to go, you really have to do that every week," the New York Yankees manager said Tuesday afternoon.
And they didn't start well.
David Robertson had one of his worst games of the season. He issued two walks and gave up a three-run, Chris Carter home run that gave the Astros a 7-4 win. Robertson walked Robbie Grossman and Jose Altuve and then went to a 3-0 count to Carter, then he put a 90 mph cutter in the middle of the plate and watched Carter pound it deep into the left-field bleachers.
It was the first home run Robertson has allowed since June 1 (against the Minnesota Twins' Josh Willingham) and just the third he has allowed in 47 innings this season. It was just the second three-run home run Robertson has given up since June 2012 (Danny Valencia hit the other one the past September).
It was also the first time this month that Robertson has walked two in an inning. He didn't get favorable calls from home-plate umpire Paul Emmel on a pitch or two to Altuve, but mostly he was just wild -- uncharacteristically wild.
And a Yankee week they hoped would be filled with wins began instead with a letdown of a loss.
Four and no more: For the eighth consecutive game, the Yankees couldn't manage to score five runs. They've been held to four runs or fewer in 80 of their 123 games.
Warren report: Adam Warren has pitched a lot this season and shown some signs of wear, so the Yankees weren't too disappointed to go through the entire weekend at Tampa Bay without using him.
"I don't think the days off hurt him," Girardi said Tuesday afternoon.
Maybe not, but did they help? Warren took over from starter Chris Capuano with two on and one out and the game tied 2-2 in the sixth inning. He got Jake Marisnick to ground out but gave up a two-out, two-run, line-drive single to pinch hitter Marwin Gonzalez. That gave the Astros the lead.
Will he ever win? If Warren had gotten Gonzalez, Capuano's numbers Tuesday wouldn't have looked that bad (5 1/3 innings, 2 runs). As it was, Capuano was charged with four runs for the second consecutive start, and his five-start ERA as a Yankee rose to 4.15. The Yankees comeback in the bottom of the sixth saved Capuano from his third Yankee loss, but he still hasn't gotten credit for a Yankee win.
Because Capuano only got one out in the sixth inning (the first time in five starts that he has failed to finish the sixth), Girardi ended up using all four of his most-favored relievers (Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and David Robertson) by the ninth inning of a tie game.
McCann homers at home -- again: Brian McCann missed almost all of the past week's road trip while on the seven-day concussion disabled list, so it's understandable he didn't add to his puny road home run total.
But when McCann homered in the fourth inning Tuesday off Brett Oberholtzer, it was his 14th home run as a Yankee -- and his 12th at Yankee Stadium. McCann has homered in three of his past four home games ... and in two of his 51 road games.
So when you say the Yankees got little right but Masahiro Tanaka in their free-agent shopping spree this past winter, just remember that they said McCann would hit home runs at Yankee Stadium, and he has.
He just isn't hitting them anywhere else.
Ellsbury hits at home -- again: Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 1-for-20 on the past week's trip to Baltimore and Tampa Bay, returned home with a three-hit night against the Astros. Ellsbury was 10-for-24 on the latest homestand, which means he's hitting .464 in his past eight home games.
Ellsbury is hitting .328 at home, versus .232 on the road.
Prado at home at 2B: Martin Prado made his third straight start at second base, and though he wasn't called on to make any spectacular plays in the field, he once again contributed at the plate. Prado's single with two out in the fourth preceded McCann's home run, his two-run double tied the game in the sixth, and his two-out single gave the Yankees a shot in the eighth.
Prado has six hits and four RBIs in the past three games.
What's next: Michael Pineda (2-2, 1.82 ERA) makes his first Yankee Stadium start since April 16 when he faces the Astros on Wednesday (7:05 p.m. ET) in the middle game of the three-game series. Right-hander Scott Feldman (8-9, 4.48 ERA), who beat the Yankees on opening day, starts for the Astros.