Before the game, Joe Girardi called the upcoming three-game series against Boston "very important."
"We have not played particularly well against the Red Sox the first six games," he said.
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That continued Tuesday night.
Freddy Garcia produced the shortest outing by a Yankees starter in nearly two years, lasting just 1 2/3 innings in a 6-4 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 48,450, which included managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, to pull into a virtual tie atop the AL East.
"You lose six of seven with a team that you're tied for first, usually doesn't happen," Girardi said. "So in a sense, we are fortunate there."
Alex Rodriguez, who went 0-for-5 and, as the tying run, struck out against Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, recalled the bad start the Yankees had two years ago against the Red Sox.
"We go back and forth with these guys," A-Rod said. "One year, we went 0-8 against them. We have a lot of respect for them and we go back and forth with those guys all the time."
Derek Jeter did collect two hits, one on a questionable scoring decision, to increase his career total to 2,988.
The Yankees had nine hits but left nine men on base.
Lester (8-2, 3.98 ERA), though not as sharp as he's been in the past against the Yankees, was good enough, allowing three runs and eight hits in six innings.
Papelbon, suspended for three games earlier in the day for making contact with an umpire Saturday but who was appealing, allowed a two-out RBI single to Jorge Posada, who entered the game when Teixeira left and had three hits, to make it 6-4. He struck out Rodriguez to earn his 12th save.
"We had our chances," said Nick Swisher, who went 2-for-4 and is in a 10-for-33 stretch. "But we can't play the woulda, shoulda coulda game."
Garcia did in a way after his quick outing, the second shortest start of his career. Garcia missed few barrels in allowing four runs and four hits, including Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff home run in a three-run first. Garcia, whose ERA has risen to 3.86 from 2.61 his last five starts, afterward sounded like a pitcher who wanted to stay in to see if he could work things out.
"I didn't have a chance to make any adjustments," he said. "What can you do? He's my manager and made the decision to take me out."
After Dustin Pedroia's two-out RBI double -- which made it 4-1 -- and intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez in the second, Girardi brought on Luis Ayala. The righty, who has done well since being activated from the disabled list May 11, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, giving way to Hector Noesi in the fourth.
Noesi got through a scoreless fourth before having an eventful fifth. After walking Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis popped out. David Ortiz then ripped Noesi's 1-and-1 pitch to right for his 14th homer of the season and a 6-1 lead, dramatically flipping his bat and taking his time exiting the batter's box, drawing some Yankees' ire in doing so.
"I didn't really care for it," Girardi said.
There wasn't a lot Tuesday night, from the Yankees' perspective, to care for.