KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson stayed hot and kept them close. But the New York Yankees failed to get the key hit when they needed it Wednesday night and came up a run short.
Alex Gordon hit a three-run home run, Billy Butler added a contested solo shot and the Kansas City Royals avoided a three-game sweep with a 5-4 victory.
The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and made it 5-4 on Robinson Cano's sacrifice fly. After a passed ball, Joakim Soria reloaded the bases by walking Nick Swisher. Then Jorge Posada, on his 40th birthday, took a called third strike to end it. The wobbly Soria got his 22nd save in 29 opportunities.
``We weren't able to get the one big hit to take the lead,' said manager Joe Girardi. ``Soria painted a few pitches at the end.'
The Yankees stranded 11 runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the first, third and ninth innings, and went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Yankees starter Bartolo Colon (8-7) was pulled after five innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks.
``Colon made some mistakes in the middle of the plate in the third,' Girardi said. ``He left a ball up to Gordon on the three-run homer and one up to Butler. Then he seemed to settle in.'
One out after Gordon's three-run shot, Butler's home run proved to be the difference, but Girardi thought it did not clear the Kauffman Stadium fences.
Girardi appealed, but after the umpires viewed video replay they said the ball was out. Replays showed the ball hitting the padding below the railing and bouncing up toward the front row of fans before coming back onto the field.
``I didn't think it was a home run. It's not going to come back into play like that,' Girardi said.
Bruce Chen (8-5) went six innings for the win, allowing three runs on seven hits. He gave up a home run to Granderson in the first and Russell Martin in the sixth. He insisted he wasn't worried when Soria wobbled in the ninth.
``That's what we want. That's who we want in the ninth inning,' he said. ``We want to give the ball to our best pitcher, our most reliable the last four years. And when Soria takes the mound you know he's going to give you everything. I was very confident and I was very happy that he got the save.'
Granderson homered in the first, his sixth in eight games. He also doubled, singled and scored twice, raising his majors-leading total to 111 runs scored. Coming into the night, his 33 home runs were two shy of Toronto's Jose Bautista for the major league lead. Russell Martin hit a solo homer in the sixth for New York.
Colon took his first loss in five starts, lasting five innings and allowing five runs on seven hits, with two walks, four strikeouts and the two home runs. He dropped to 15-9 against Kansas City.
Jeter was 4 for 5 and 9 for 15 for the three-game series.
NOTES: Tampa Bay's 4-0 victory over Boston kept New York half a game ahead in the AL East. ... The Yankees planned to bring 3B Alex Rodriguez to Minnesota on Thursday, where they will begin a four-game series with the Twins. But the three-time MVP, rehabbing knee surgery, may not be activated right away. Rodriguez went 1 for 2 with an RBI and two walks in his final game for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He also made an error. ... The Royals have been giving outfielder Mitch Maier some groundballs at third base in case they ever need an emergency starter there. ... The Royals will start Luke Hochevar (8-9) against Josh Beckett (9-5) Thursday night in the first of four games against the Boston Red Sox. They split four games in Boston last month. ... CC Sabathia (16-7) gets the start for the Yankees on Thursday against Brian Duensing (8-11). He's 7-0 in his last eight starts against the Twins.
The Associated Press News Service
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