NEW YORK -- For the second night in a row, there was some bite in this toothless Yankees offense. Only tonight, the lineup came up a couple of teeth short as the Texas Rangers beat the Yankees 8-5.
What it means: That the Yankees must rely on the struggling Phil Hughes in tomorrow afternoon's series finale to avoid losing the series and finishing 4-5 on this homestand.
Cruz Control: Nelson Cruz belted the first pitch he saw from Joba Chamberlain into the visitors bullpen with one on in the seventh to extend the Rangers' lead to 6-3 after the Yankees had cut it to a run the previous inning. It was Cruz' 20th home run of the season, which makes five straight seasons for him with at least 20 dingers.
Job-Booooo: Chamberlain, once a fan favorite here, was loudly booed off the mound after facing six hitters and allowing four hard hits, including Cruz's homer, a double into the right-center gap by Adrian Beltre and a single by Lance Berkman that failed to score a run when Rangers' third-base coach Gary Pettis chose to hold Beltre at third rather than test Ichiro Suzuki's arm.
Slender Slugger: Ichiro, who won Tuesday night's game with a walk-off homer, drew the Yankees to within one run with a moon shot into the second deck in right with Vernon Wells (pinch-hit single) aboard to cut the Rangers' lead to 6-5. And somehow, Joe Girardi chose to pull Ichiro, the hottest hitter in the lineup, the next inning and insert the weak-hitting Austin Romine into his lineup spot.
Boot Gardner: Brett Gardner was charged with a two-base error in the ninth when he allowed A.J. Pierzynski's long fly to bounce off his glove, but he might have been distracted by Zoilo Almonte, who strayed into his airspace from left field. The error led to two unearned insurance runs against Shawn Kelley, who gave up an RBI single to Lance Berkman and a sac fly to Mitch Moreland.
Deep-sixed: The Yankees had a golden opportunity to tie the game -- or even take the lead in the sixth inning -- getting four consecutive hits, including a double by Ichiro, but came away with a disappointing two runs when, after cutting the Rangers lead to 4-3, Lyle Overbay struck out. After Almonte walked to load the bases, Jayson Nix rapped into an inning-ending double play.
Death by bunts: The Rangers went bunt-crazy on the Yankees in the third, reaching base on two, one of which nearly resulted in an injury to Andy Pettitte. In scrambling to field Leonys Martin's leadoff bunt, Pettitte got his left arm hung up on Nix trying to make the throw and fell to the ground in apparent pain. He then walked Ian Kinsler, after which Elvis Andrus laid down another bunt, and this time Nix's high throw pulled Overbay off the bag at first, which loaded the bases. After Pettitte struck out Cruz, Beltre lined a two-run double off the left-field fence to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead, followed by a Pierzynski single that scored two more to make it 4-1.
Foul Play: The inexperience of the left side of the Yankees defense -- Nix at third, Alberto Gonzalez at short and Almonte in left -- was on display in the seventh when all converged on Pierzynski's foul pop behind third base and let it fall among them. It seemed as if Nix pulled up, thinking either Gonzalez or Almonte would handle it. It made you long for the return of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, or even Eduardo Nunez.
What's next: The series finale against the Rangers. Hughes (3-6, 5.09 ERA), possibly pitching for his rotation spot, faces left-hander Derek Holland (5-4, 3.43 ERA). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.