NEW YORK – This isn't quite how the New York Yankees wanted to head into their first home series with Boston.
They're coming off a series in which they got outplayed by the Kansas City Royals and smacked around Thursday night in the finale, an 11-5 loss that represented a couple of season low points.
Eric Hosmer and Melky Cabrera homered and Kansas City sent New York to its first home series loss of the season. It was the most runs and most hits (16) the Yankees have allowed all season. Ivan Nova had the shortest start of his career. Francisco Cervelli and Robinson Cano each made a throwing error in the Royals' big second inning.
Oh, and the Yankees have lost six of nine and fell out of first place for the first time since April 13.
So, uh, bring on the Red Sox?
"Maybe it's what we need," manager Joe Girardi said. "Maybe we need the Red Sox to come in. You know everything seems to get turned up, coverage, the intensity of the games seem to take on a new flavor."
On the plus side for New York, Cano homered and Alex Rodriguez went deep for the first time in 65 at-bats.
Still, it wasn't enough to overcome the Royals and starter Sean O'Sullivan, who was perfect through 13 batters until running into trouble.
The Yankees got back four runs in the fifth inning, on Cano's leadoff homer, Cervelli's two-run double and Derek Jeter's sacrifice fly.
O'Sullivan was lifted with two outs in the seventh after allowing Jeter's single up the middle. He gave up four runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, without a strikeout.
Hosmer led off the Royals' big second inning with a solo shot to right-center field. Some careless play by the Yankees set up the Royals to score five runs with two outs, making it the worst inning by New York's pitching all season.
Second baseman Cano's throwing error on a double-play ball left Wilson Betemit safe at second and Matt Treanor at first. They both took a base on a passed ball by Cervelli, setting up Mike Aviles' infield single to make it 2-0.
Cabrera followed with a double, and then took a big lead off the bag. Cervelli tried to throw behind him, but the ball skipped into center field and Aviles scored.
"I tried to throw to second," Cervelli said. "It was a bad throw. That inning was the whole game."
And Hosmer was right in the middle of it. He even had an RBI double on a check swing. The night before, he homered and drove in the go-ahead run in the 11th.
"It's been a real good three days," Hosmer said. "We came to New York and took two out of three from the Yankees. We're winning ballgames and you'll keep seeing the smile on my face when we keep winning."
Billy Butler had four hits for the Royals, who hadn't won in the Bronx since 1999.
O'Sullivan (2-2) retired his first 13 batters before running into trouble, but pitched into the seventh to give Kansas City its eighth win in 12 games.
The Royals' 16 hits were a season high, one night after they had four in 11 innings, in a 4-3 win. Ten of them came off Nova (3-3), who had the shortest start of his career.
Butler's groundout and Jeff Francoeur's single capped the inning and made it 6-0.
"You can't give teams extra outs," Girardi said. "You give teams extra baserunners with errors and walks, you hit guys, it's just going to lead to trouble. Those games are extremely hard to win."
Although his defense didn't help him any, Nova was hit hard from the start. He left after starting the fourth with a leadoff homer by Cabrera, a double by Alex Gordon and an RBI single by Butler.
Four of the eight runs Nova allowed were earned and his 10 hits given up were a career worst. Nova's previous shortest starts were two times he went 4 1-3 earlier this season. In one of those, April 9 at Boston, he allowed a career-high seven hits.
"The errors, it's part of the game," Nova said. "I just got to keep my head up, keep working hard."
No matter what happens over the weekend, the Yankees can't fall out of second place while (fourth-place) Boston visits. They're still four games up on Boston, and 3½ ahead of the Orioles, not that it diminishes the rivalry's renewal this weekend.
"Maybe it is the right time," Girardi said. "I don't know, but I know we're capable of playing much better and we need to start doing that."
Notes: Jeter's grounder up the middle in the seventh inning was his 2,963rd career hit. It tied him with Sam Crawford for 29th on the career list. ... Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano (right elbow) played catch before the game. He had no setbacks and will be evaluated Friday. ... Amaury Sanit pitched 4 2-3 innings in relief of Nova. The 31-year-old Cuban made his major league debut, allowing four hits and three runs. He also hit two batters with pitches and threw a wild pitch. ... Royals pitchers didn't record a single strikeout.