ARLINGTON, Texas - Masahiro Tanaka showed Wednesday night why the Yankees would like to acquire top-of-the-rotation help before Friday's 4 p.m. trade deadline.

The righthander, while not bad, again didn't pitch like an ace in a 5-2 loss to the Rangers in front of 31,658 at Globe Life Park.

"I didn't think his split was sharp," Joe Girardi said. "He really struggled the whole time. His command was not great tonight."

Tanaka (7-4, 3.80) allowed four runs and nine hits over six innings. It was the sixth time in his last seven starts Tanaka allowed three earned runs or more. "It's not just the splitter," Tanaka said through his translator. "It goes for pretty much all the pitches I was throwing today. I just didn't have command of them."

The Yankees (57-43), who still lead AL East by six games, saw one pitcher they were interested in, the Phillies Cole Hamels, come off the board during the game. According to multiple reports, an agreement was reached sending the lefthander to the Rangers (48-52).

The Yankees are very much interested in the Tigers David Price, whom Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski indicated Wednesday afternoon was available, but it remains to be seen if they'll be able to outbid teams like the Dodgers and Blue Jays, both of whom are desperate to land a front-line starter. The Dodgers are significant favorites.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Yankees, after scoring 21 unanswered runs, including 11 in the second inning, in Tuesday night's 21-5 victory, managed eight hits Wednesday. Rangers' righthander Colby Lewis (11-4, 4.42) held them to two runs and seven hits over six innings.

The Yankees did score first, getting Carlos Beltran's eighth homer of the season to lead off the second and, later in the inning, a RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury that made it 2-0.

The Rangers tied it in the bottom half, a 31-pitch inning for Tanaka, who ended the frame at 41 pitches. Adrian Beltre singled and Mitch Moreland walked. Tanaka fell behind Josh Hamilton 2-and-0 before the leftfielder, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, lined a 92-mph to right that brought in Beltre to make it 2-1. After Elvis Andrus struck out, Shin-Soo Choo, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI, punched a single to left to tie it at 2. Robinson Chirinos flew out, but Delino DeShields delivered Hamilton with a single to right, giving the Rangers the lead for good at 3-2.

Brian McCann said Tanaka left some splitters "up," but also took responsibility, criticizing his pitch selection. "I definitely didn't have my best night calling a game," McCann said.