For four hours, the Yankees put on a situational hitting display that will not be appearing on any future instructional videos. Four hours into the game against the league's worst road team, the Yankees could have been on their way home from their 21st victory.

If only they did more with the 12 hits and eight walks off six Kansas City pitchers.

The Bombers went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and were clipped 4-3 in 11 innings after Eric Hosmer lifted a sacrifice fly off Luis Ayala.

Ayala was the last man in the Yankee bullpen because Rafael Soriano was resting a tender pitching elbow and Joba Chamberlain was not going to be used a fourth straight game.

That was the situation facing manager Joe Girardi when his lineup that leads the majors with 55 home runs but is hitting a mediocre .253 failed time after time, stranding 15 on the bases.

“It’s pretty tough, unless you hit three-run homers,” Girardi said. “We had a lot of opportunities tonight. We just never cashed in.”

No one had a rougher night than Robinson Cano, who left in the fifth inning after he was hit in the head and taken for a CT scan that was negative.

Derek Jeter was 0-for-6 during a night that saw him strike out with two on in the second, fly out with two on in the sixth, pop up on a bunt with Brett Gardner on first in the eighth and ground out with a runner in scoring position in the 10th.

Alex Rodriguez also had a rough time, managing a soft infield single and a walk in five plate appearances. In the other ones, Rodriguez hit into an inning-double play in the first, struck out swinging in the fifth and ninth.

Rodriguez also led off the 11th and flied out to right field and when Nick Swisher ended a 0-for-4 night by striking out on a 79 mph slider a long and unproductive night finally ended for the Yankees.

Before Rodriguez’s fly out and Swisher’s strike out, the Yankees had their biggest chance in the ninth with the bases loaded. The Royals elected to intentionally walk Swisher and Jorge Posada reached a full count before striking out on an Aaron Crow slider.

“The bottom line is we’re better than this, and right now we’re struggling offensively,” Girardi said. “You’ve just got to keep going at it. You’ve got to keep putting guys on and eventually you know it’s going to turn.”

It actually could have gone badly much earlier, especially if A.J. Burnett did not succeed pitching in survivor mode. Burnett allowed just a fifth-inning home run to Hosmer but overcame his second five-walk game and a night where he had 13 three-ball counts to 28 hitters.

“I was all right,” Burnett said. “I think the main thing was that I didn’t let the walks bother me. The bottom line is that I don’t want to walk guys and put guys on. But at the same time, I’ve got to put it behind me and make the next pitch.”

Burnett did so by holding the Royals hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position and hitless in nine at-bats with men on.

He did so in a number of instances, most notably with one out in the sixth.

After walking Hosmer, Burnett hit ex-Met Jeff Francouer in the back with a cutter that drew a warning from plate umpire Ed Rapuano, who may have believed it was a retaliation pitch.

Seven pitches and three curveballs later, the threat was extinguished. The second out occurred when Wilson Betemit swung at a curve and the final out was on the next pitch when Brayan Pena grounded out to second on the same pitch.

Burnett’s ability to survive was wasted when David Robertson wasn’t Houdini and gave up Wilson Betemit’s game-tying single and eventually the whole night became wasted for the Yankees.

“The last thing I want to do is blow the game for A.J.,” Robertson said. “He dealt tonight, kept us right there in the ballgame, gave us the ball in the eighth with a one-run lead. I’ve got to be better than that. I’ve got to be able to get those three outs.”

Worth Noting:

Trainer Gene Monahan announced this season will be his last with the Yankees, ending a 49-year association with the club that began as a batboy in spring training 1962.

Monahan said during a pregame press conference that he plans on moving to North Carolina and that battling cancer last year served as a reminder he has other things to do in life.

Among the stories Monahan told was the first time he walked into the clubhouse as a major league trainer and was greeted by reliever Sparky Lyle.

One of Monahan’s recent contributions concerned recommending that right-handed relief pitcher Rafael Soriano takes tonight and likely tomorrow off after an MRI revealed some elbow inflammation. The Yankees hope their eighth-inning guy will be available for this weekend’s series with the Red Sox.

According to pitch FX, Burnett threw 24 cut fastballs last night. According to the same data, that was nine more than he had thrown all season.

Granderson hit his 19th home run at Yankee Stadium as a Yankee. This one was notable for the left-handed hitting Granderson because it was the first time he hit one over the center field wall.