With his deep bullpen fully rested and Nathan Eovaldi having given up plenty of hard-hit balls, Joe Girardi took no chances with a one-run lead.
The manager summoned lefthander Chasen Shreve to face the tough, lefthanded-hitting Josh Reddick with one out in the sixth, the start, Girardi hoped, of a final 4 2/3 scoreless innings by the bullpen.
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Shreve struck out Reddick but Billy Butler jumped on a first-pitch fastball and sent a tying homer to left. It was the first of two hiccups by Yankees relievers that cost them in a 4-3 loss in 10 innings to the A's Tuesday night in front of 32,337 at the Stadium.
"Reddick had hit him pretty hard and I had a fresh bullpen," said Girardi, whose 44-39 club has lost four of five games to the 39-47 A's but still has a 1 1/2-game lead in the mediocre AL East. "The way my bullpen's been throwing, I just thought I'd go to Shreve."
As surprising as the homer allowed by Shreve was -- the effective lefthander had allowed just two this season -- it paled in comparison to the 10th-inning bomb given up by Dellin Betances, named Monday to the All-Star team a second straight season.
After a scoreless ninth, the righthander -- who allowed a game-tying two-run homer to Steven Souza Jr. of the Rays on Saturday, the first home run he allowed since last August -- hung an 0-and-2 curveball to Brett Lawrie, who hooked it just inside the leftfield foul pole for his eighth homer to make it 4-3.
"I left that pitch over the plate and he obviously crushed it," said Betances, who allowed one hit and struck out three in 1 2/3 innings. "Last time [Saturday], I was fortunate we won the game, today we weren't able to do that."
Catcher Brian McCann said Betances, whose ERA has ticked to 1.65 from 1.11 as a result of the last two outings, hasn't looked dramatically different. "The last two home runs he's given up have just backed up on him a little bit to the middle of the plate," he said. "But he's as good as they come."
Tyler Clippard walked Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the 10th, giving Mark Teixeira a chance to win or tie it. Teixeira, the AL leader in RBIs with 59, got ahead 3-and-0 before striking out, earning Clippard his 16th save.
A's righthander Sonny Gray, who entered the game 9-3 with a 2.09 ERA, was not himself after an 11-day layoff. Gray was erratic from the start and allowed three runs, six hits and three walks over seven innings.
Eovaldi, 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his previous three starts, kept the damage to a minimum over 5 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs, six hits and one walk. He was removed after his 86th pitch resulted in a ground smash by Ben Zobrist to second for the first out of the sixth.
Eovaldi, who gave up an RBI single to Reddick in the first inning, said he was "surprised" to be yanked but didn't second guess Girardi. "Our bullpen's been outstanding this year," Eovaldi said. "I understand the situation. It's a close ballgame and the heart of their lineup coming up."
After Butler's homer, Shreve retired two straight and Adam Warren and Justin Wilson threw perfect innings. In reality, two bad pitches sunk the bullpen, which was otherwise perfect.
"For the most part, they were really good," Girardi said. "It's unfortunate we didn't get any runs after it was 3-3. But they were pretty good tonight even though they ended up getting the loss."