It's not often future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera blows a save, but it happened to the New York Yankees closer on Sunday.
The Bronx Bombers hope they can give Rivera a rest Monday in the opener of a four-game series versus the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium.
New York had a six-game winning streak halted in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, as Adam Jones took Rivera deep for a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning and Jim Johnson struck out two in the bottom half for his major league-leading 30th save.
"It's off the greatest closer in the history of the game. I'll always remember it," Jones said of his 16th home run.
Hiroki Kuroda was solid through the first seven innings for the Yankees and limited the Orioles to just three hits. David Robertson spun a scoreless eighth and Rivera followed with his second blown save of the season.
"The way Hiroki was pitching, I mean, he was doing outstanding," Rivera said. "He did great. This would have been a great game to save, and I didn't."
Eduardo Nunez drove in a run and Chris Stewart led the Yankees with two hits. The Yankees are 2-1 on a 10-game homestand and a half-game back of Baltimore and Tampa Bay for second in the AL East.
Phil Hughes gets the call for the Yanks on Monday and was able to stop a personal three-game losing streak his previous time out. In last Tuesday's 7-3 win at Minnesota, Hughes was reached for just one run on six hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and two walks.
Hughes, a right-hander, is 4-7 in 16 starts to go along with a 4.55 earned run average and defeated Kansas City back on May 10. In eight career meetings, seven of which have been starts, against the Royals, Hughes is 5-1 with a 6.10 ERA. He hasn't pitched well at home this season, going 1-5 in eight outings.
The Royals went 3-3 on their recent homestand, which came to a close with Sunday's 10-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Luis Mendoza got the start for K.C. and gave up five runs and five hits in just 1 2/3 innings. Bruce Chen and Will Smith combined to allow five runs in relief.
"I feel good physically, I'm just struggling right now. Struggling is not new in baseball and I just have to figure how to get out of it," Mendoza said.
Alex Gordon and George Kottaras each homered for the Royals, who are six games out in the AL Central and will start a seven-game road trip Monday.
Jeremy Guthrie gets the call for Kansas City at Yankee Stadium and is winless (0-3) in his last four starts. He did not figure into the decision of a 6-5 win over Cleveland on Wednesday and permitted five runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Guthrie has given up 17 runs over his past four appearances and is 7-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 17 starts. The right-hander has faced the Yankees 17 times (15 starts) in his career and is 4-9 with a 5.15 ERA against them.
The Royals were swept by the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium from May 10-12 and have lost the last five meetings between the two clubs.