In two games at Yankee Stadium immediately after the All-Star break, the Cincinnati Reds have struck out 23 times and walked only once.
"That's not where we want to be," third baseman Todd Frazier said.
Brandon McCarthy earned his first win for New York with an impressive debut in pinstripes, and Brett Gardner drove in three runs from the leadoff spot to send the Yankees past the Reds 7-1 on Saturday.
Carlos Beltran homered, Kelly Johnson hit a two-run single and the Yankees ended Alfredo Simon's six-game winning streak in the right-hander's first outing since the All-Star game.
Derek Jeter had an RBI single and New York won the first two in a three-game interleague series, leaving Cincinnati with five straight losses on the road.
"I think this is kind of a blip in the radar, but we certainly need to turn things around if we want to get that game tomorrow," manager Bryan Price said.
A converted reliever, the surprising Simon (12-4) is tied for the big league lead in wins — but he was betrayed Saturday by a Reds defense that entered with the highest fielding percentage and fewest errors in the majors.
The right-hander allowed four runs — two earned — and five hits in five innings, the first time he failed to finish six innings since going 3 2-3 in a 6-3 loss at Dodger Stadium on May 27. He went 6-0 with a 2.47 ERA in his next eight starts.
"A couple of uncharacteristic plays that got some things going," Price said. "In my biased opinion, we're the best defense in the National League, if not all of baseball. Moments like this, games like this, happen."
Chris Heisey homered for the Reds, struggling to mount much offense this weekend without injured boppers Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.
Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton finished for the Yankees, who struck out 13. It was the first time they whiffed that many without issuing a walk since July 7, 2006, at Tampa Bay.
"We've really been struggling to put the ball in play and really just to create anything offensively," Price said.
Acquired from Arizona in a July 6 trade, McCarthy (1-0) struck out nine and walked none over six innings in his second start for the Yankees and first at home. He threw 71 of 99 pitches for strikes, improving to 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his last four outings after winning only once in his initial 16 starts this season.
"His sinker was moving a lot. He didn't really throw that curveball too much. He was hitting his spots and jamming us. You saw a couple of broken bats, myself included," Frazier said. "He just had one of those days. You tip your cap to him, but at the same time, we've got to pick it up a little bit. Even though it's Game 2 of the second half, we've still got to figure out a way to get more runs."
McCarthy was 3-10 with a 4.80 ERA for the Diamondbacks before New York obtained him to upgrade a rotation ravaged by injuries to four starters. The right-hander's first outing for the Yankees was a no-decision July 9 at Cleveland.
"He's got top-of-the-rotation stuff, and we're really glad to have him," catcher Brian McCann said. "He was doing whatever he wanted to on the mound today."
McCarthy's wife had more trouble slogging through Yankee Stadium traffic than he did against the Cincinnati lineup.
Told that Mrs. McCarthy tweeted several wisecracks about all the highway congestion that delayed her arrival at the ballpark, the pitcher could only smile.
"If everybody isn't apprised of what she's doing every few minutes, God knows what would happen." he said.
NOTES: Price said INF-OF Skip Schumaker passed his concussion test, and the Reds were just waiting for approval from Major League Baseball before activating him from the seven-day concussion disabled list. ... Simon fell to 0-3 in seven games, including four starts, against the Yankees. ... Cincinnati is 3-7 in interleague play this season. ... McCarthy entered 0-2 with a 14.73 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance against the Reds. ... Before the game, Frazier and Reds President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty gave Jeter framed jerseys autographed by the club's two captains, Dave Concepcion and Barry Larkin. Jeter also was presented with three photos taken June 3, 2003, the day he was named the 11th Yankees captain while the team was in Cincinnati. ... Donald Lutz was the DH, and Kristopher Negron started for Phillips at second base. "These kids have no value to us if they can't blend in there periodically and give us some productive at-bats," Price said. "If I go too long without playing them, really they lose any ability to compete in this environment." ... Looking to avoid a three-game sweep, Cincinnati sends another All-Star to the mound Sunday when RHP Johnny Cueto (10-6, 2.13 ERA) faces Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda (6-6, 4.10).