The last two nights have been among the longest of the season as summer approaches on Friday. And in each of those nights, the Yankees have faced three-run deficits while the sun was still up.
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The absences of Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis, among several other high-priced veterans, were too much against left-hander Chris Capuano Wednesday night against the Dodgers.
A night later, against hard-throwing left-hander Matt Moore, it proved even more challenging.
The Yankees had just five hits and none of their three runs came on a hit during an 8-3 loss to the Rays.
“We’ll figure it out,” first baseman Lyle Overbay said. “But it kind of sucks that we’re all going through it.”
Overbay was thrown out trying to advance to third on a ground ball to shortstop in the seventh when the deficit was still two runs.
The loss was the Yankees’ ninth in 13 games. Going back to May 20 in Baltimore, it was the team’s 17th defeat in 33 games, a stretch that dropped their record from 28-16 to 39-33.
“We’ve got guys that are working their butts off,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Unfortunately we haven’t been scoring a bunch of runs lately and it has cost us some games, but these guys are working and they’re doing everything that we’ve asked them to do.”
It also is a stretch in which they have scored three runs or less 17 times and not surprisingly the Yankees have won just two of those games (June 8 and 9 in Seattle).
In those 17 games, the Yankees have been outscored by a 79-30 margin.
The Yankees’ best offensive opportunity came in the sixth when Robinson Cano stood in with nobody out and the bases loaded against Moore.
But Cano was only able to lift a sacrifice fly to center field, which came after Reid Brignac scored on a wild pitch. The other run came on a harmless Travis Hafner ground out against the shift.
The three runs could have sparked a comeback but Yankee pitching allowed four late runs.
“I don’t think the pressure is on the pitching staff,” Overbay said. “They’ve been doing real well anyways. When you struggle you tend to press a little bit, that’s only human nature, but I think the biggest thing is getting good at-bats and I don’t think we’ve done that as consistently as we were.
“We’re just kind of swinging at their pitches and not ours. Sometimes you think you’re going to hit yourself out of it.”
Andy Pettitte allowed five runs and nine hits over 6 2/3 innings. He put the Yankees in a 3-0 hole after allowing a sacrifice fly by Longoria. Longoria extended the deficit to four runs when he homered in the sixth. Pettitte was chased after allowing an RBI double to Sean Rodriguez.
“Obviously the evaluation of it is another disappointing outing,” Pettitte said. “I feel like my command in the zone is not quite where it needs to be. My command is not real good and every ball I leave in the zone, I’m giving up base hits right now. Just tonight, the first couple of hits, [I] couldn’t get them out and when you can’t get the top of the lineup out, obviously.”
Joba Chamberlain gave up a solo home run to the Rays third baseman in the eighth inning for his second of the night.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.