A rally in the ninth inning wasn't enough to keep the New York Yankees on track, so they'll dust themselves off and try again tonight.
The Yankees had won nine in a row in Oakland before Thursday's tough 4-3 loss and will resume a four-game set Friday at the Coliseum, where Freddy Garcia put the club in a 4-0 hole before a comeback fell short in the series opener. Garcia was dealt the loss for giving up all four runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"I couldn't find my stuff today," Garcia said on the Yankees' website. "I was in trouble the whole game, but I was able to keep the game close."
Nick Swisher homered in the ninth inning and finished with two RBI, while Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez each had two hits and a run scored. Robinson Cano is still dialed in at the plate and extended his career-high hitting streak to 22 games with a 1-for-4 performance. Cano has 14 runs, six homers, 20 RBI and 11 multi-hit games during the surge. Jeter had a 25-game streak back in 2006.
New York's lead atop the American League East standings was trimmed to nine games over Baltimore, and the team still leads the majors with 147 home runs. The Yankees, who entered last night's game with nine wins in 11 tries, have belted 46 home runs in the past 25 contests and have scored three or more runs in 43 straight games. The team record is 49 games from Sept. 7, 1950 through May 16, 1951. Cleveland did it in 48 games back in 1994.
The Yankees received some discouraging news on Thursday, as speedy outfielder Brett Gardner is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow next week. Gardner could miss the remainder of the season and has not played since making a diving catch on April 17 versus Minnesota. Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez will continue to share time in the outfield.
"We probably won't have him the rest of this year, but let's get it cleaned up and get him healthy," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after Thursday's game. "I wish we would have his speed coming back, but we're going to have to do it without him."
Ivan Nova hopes to bounce back from a poor outing his last time out when he takes the mound for the Yankees tonight. Nova had won six of seven decisions until running into Jered Weaver and the LA Angels of Anaheim in Sunday's 10-8 loss at Yankee Stadium, where he gave up six runs and nine hits in six innings.
Nova is still a solid 10-4 in 18 starts with a 4.18 ERA. The right-hander has dominated on the road this season, going 7-1 in 10 starts, and defeated the Athletics the only time he faced them on May 25, when he hurled seven innings of three-run ball in a 6-3 triumph at the Coliseum. Nova has lost only once in his last 18 road assignments dating back to last June 20, and has amassed a 13-1 record with a 3.15 ERA in that span.
He had a 12-game road winning streak recently come to an end July 3 at Tampa Bay. The streak was the fourth-longest road winning streak in team history behind 15-game winning streaks from Allie Reynolds (1948-49) and Monte Pearson (1936-37), and a 13-game surge by Russ Ford (1910-11).
Meanwhile, Oakland has been on fire this month as evidenced by its 11-2 record. The surge has the Athletics 7 1/2 games behind Texas for the AL West lead and just one-half game off the Wild Card.
Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer and Seth Smith had a two-run single for the Athletics, who got three hits from Coco Crisp and six strong inning from youngster A.J. Griffin. Griffin allowed only two runs in six innings and struck out four batters for his second career win.
"He knows against these guys they're going to try and drive your pitch count up," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Griffin. "He's a command guy, very confident to throw his ball over the plate with any of his pitches. That's what makes him successful."
Tommy Milone faced the Yankees for the first time in his career in a 2-0 loss on May 27, and pitched well in the loss. He gave up both runs in 6 2/3 innings, allowed eight hits and struck out three with two walks. Milone is hoping his second go-around can go more smoothly this evening.
Milone has won three of his last four decisions overall, and got plenty of run support in a 9-3 victory at Minnesota on Saturday. Even though he permitted a season-high 10 hits, the left-hander held the Twins to a pair of runs in six innings to push his record to 9-6 in 18 starts and lower his ERA to 3.54.
In seven starts in front of the home crowd, Milone is 5-1 with a sparkling 1.03 earned run average. His only home loss was against the Yankees.
The Athletics were swept by New York in three games from May 25-27. They haven't won or tied a series with the Yankees at home since 2007.