NEW YORK (AP) - The Cleveland Indians kept putting runners on base, at least one in every inning. And they kept swiping bases, five steals in all.
They just struggled to get anybody home.
The Indians went hitless in 17 tries with runners aboard, stranding a dozen against wily veteran Freddy Garcia and the New York Yankees' bullpen in a frustrating 9-1 loss Sunday.
The revelation of the early portion of the season, Cleveland built a seven-game lead in the AL Central that has all but disappeared. The Indians have lost nine of their last 10 and cling to a sliver of that lead after the second-place Detroit Tigers also lost Sunday.
``Every club goes through these kinds of stretches,' manager Manny Acta said. ``It's probably not the last time we will go through a stretch like this.'
Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson paced an 18-hit attack for New York, but the outcome rested as much on Garcia's ability to wiggle out of trouble as anything.
He stranded Orlando Cabrera on second in the second inning, and Asdrubal Cabrera on third in the third inning. Shin-Soo Choo reached third the following inning, and the Indians put runners on second in the fifth and sixth without getting them home.
They finally coaxed a run across off Garcia in the seventh, and loaded the bases against reliever Boone Logan, before Choo lined out to shortstop to end the inning.
``I felt prettty good about it and hopefully I'll be able to keep competing like I did today,' Garcia said. ``You have to make good pitches and I was able to do that.'
Just about the only highlight for the Indians was Orlando Cabrera, who delivered the 2,000th hit of his career with a single in the second inning.
``I wouldn't make up a story that I was not thinking about it a lot,' he said. ``I hope that the guys were thinking about it a lot, too, so that we can move on and start winning.'
Josh Tomlin (7-4) did his best to keep the Indians in the game, but his defense failed him in the fifth inning and New York pushed five runs across.
Gardner led off with a double to right that Choo lost in the flat, gray sky. Jeter had an RBI single and Granderson also singled before A-Rod hit a fly ball that left fielder Austin Kearns woefully misjudged for a two-run double.
Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher added RBI singles, the second of which it appeared first baseman Matt LaPorta could have fielded. Jorge Posada's sacrifice fly made it 6-0.
``That fifth inning, it was kind of one of those innings that was hard to stop once it got going,' Tomlin said. ``As a pitcher, I have to be able to control that and stop the bleeding, 'cause those hitters can smell blood.
``Once they smell blood, they're not going to stop swinging.'
Jeter had two hits to close within seven of 3,000. The Yankees' captain has four more games during their current homestand to reach the milestone before a six-game road trip.
``It's impossible for that not to be in your head, because I'm around that all the time,' Jeter said. ``Yeah, I'd love to do it at home.'
Granderson went 4 for 4 and drove in a pair of runs, and Brett Gardner had a pair of doubles, a triple and scored three times. A-Rod also drove in a pair and closed within two of Hall of Famer Ted Williams for 16th place on the career scoring list.
``That's why you play the game, to play against guys like that and test your stuff,' Tomlin said. ``I knew coming into the game they were a good team, but I didn't change my approach at all. I still tried to go after them the same way I went after them last year.'
There appeared to be no lingering animosity a day after Rodriguez was hit in the thigh by a pitch, and two days after Mark Teixeira was hit and the benches cleared.
New York batters had been hit eight times over the first five games of the homestand, including one in each of the previous five contests. That streak was one shy of the franchise's longest since 1920, set in May 2006 and matched last August and September.
NOTES: Indians DH Travis Hafner (strained right oblique) took BP before the game. ... Jets coach Rex Ryan attended the game wearing a pinstripe jersey. ... Tomlin allowed six runs in five innings.
The Associated Press News Service
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