Michael Pineda shook his elbow. He started stretching his neck and shoulder. Then he wiggled his elbow once more.

Uh-oh. Given Pineda's long history of arm injuries, the knee-jerk reaction was to expect the worst when in the third inning Pineda started making peculiar body movements.

Nothing was wrong, though. And Pineda wasn't doing some weird dance, either. Pineda was simply being, well, Pineda, as catcher Brian McCann put it.

"That's just him being him, man," McCann said after the Yankees fell to the Astros, 5-2, Wednesday night at the Stadium.

"Yeah, I just feel happy when I'm pitching my game," Pineda said with a laugh. "I just like to move around a lot and stuff."

Whatever works, right?

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Pineda (2-2, 2.05 ERA) had his second outstanding start since rejoining the Yankees from a shoulder muscle injury. Pineda pitched six innings plus one batter and was charged with two runs, four hits and a walk. He threw 89 pitches and struck out three.

"He gave us a real good performance," manager Joe Girardi said.

It was spoiled, however.

Pineda walked Jason Castro to open the seventh. The righthander was then lifted and received a standing ovation. David Huff came in and struck out Jon Singleton before allowing a single to Marwin Gonzalez. Esmil Rogers then surrendered a two-run single to Robbie Grossman.

Pineda was perfect for three innings before Grossman led off the fourth with a single. He scored the game's first run on Dexter Fowler's two-out double.

"[Pineda] was cruising right there," McCann said.

Pineda's first start since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 14 was also wasted by a poor effort from the Yankees' bullpen. In that one, Pineda was perfect through four innings against the Orioles and allowed one earned run in five innings.

Pineda said Wednesday that he hopes to be part of a Yankees rotation that leads the club to a postseason berth. Though that's becoming increasingly unlikely, Pineda is continuing to raise his individual stock.

Is Pineda now a pitcher the Yankees can count on the rest of this season and beyond? Maybe. But it's likely too soon to say. One sure thing about Pineda, however, is his movements on the mound, according to Girardi.

"That's just who he is," Girardi said. "Don't ever make too much of that. He's got a lot of gyrations out there that you're going to see over time."