CINCINNATI -- Considering how it started, the Yankees' six-game trip to two National League parks turned out fine.
Not much to quibble with going 4-2 against the Cubs and Reds, given that the Yankees lost the first game Friday in Chicago. And it could have turned out worse, considering the always uncomfortable proposition -- particularly to a bullpen -- of a split doubleheader Wednesday.
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So, although it got ugly late, there wasn't too much reason to sweat the 10-2 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park Wednesday night. Sure, the Yankees would have been thrilled with a 5-1 trip but . . .
"It didn't end up the way you want it, but I think overall it was a good road trip,'' catcher Russell Martin said. "I'll take 4-2 any day.''
The split of the doubleheader, coupled with first-place Boston's loss to the Padres, leaves the Yankees (43-30) a half-game behind in the AL East.
Freddy Garcia gave a good performance in the opener, a 4-2 Yankees victory, with Jorge Posada providing the final margin with a two-run homer in the sixth. That made the night result more palatable, even though Brian Gordon (four runs, five hits in five innings) wasn't as sharp in his second major-league start as he was in his first.
Gordon gave up three home runs, two to leadoff hitter Chris Heisey, who had three on the night and five RBIs. They were his sixth, seventh and eighth homers of the season.
"I was definitely disappointed with the outcome,'' Gordon said. "I made three mistakes and I paid for all three of them.''
In the nightcap, the Yankees were handcuffed by a pitcher who made few mistakes, pretty much the case all season. Johnny Cueto (5-2, 1.63 ERA) allowed a run and two hits in seven innings.
"I can't speak for everyone, but I didn't really get too many good balls to hit,'' Martin said. "He was tough out there.''
The Yankees' best chance to get a sweep came in the seventh when they loaded the bases against Cueto with one out. Ramiro Peña grounded into a 3-2 force play, and Posada, with the chance to play hero for the second time in the day, grounded out as a pinch hitter.
The Reds blew it open by taking a 7-1 lead when Hector Noesi allowed three runs in the seventh. Alex Rodriguez's two-out double in the eighth made it 7-2, but Noesi gave up three more runs in the eighth, including Heisey's third homer.
"He had a great night,'' Joe Girardi said.
Garcia (6-6, 3.30) was outstanding for seven innings, allowing three hits, one walk and two unearned runs, the result of two errors committed by Peña. Peña, in an atypical game, ended up with three on the afternoon.
Peña got the start at third as Girardi decided to rest Rodriguez. Girardi also rested Martin for the first game.
David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth, and Mariano Rivera earned his 19th save with a perfect ninth. Peña made a diving stop to his right on Scott Rolen's ground smash for the second out of the inning.
Heisey hit a leadoff homer in the first. Nick Swisher went opposite field to lead off the second, lining the first pitch he saw from Cueto just over the yellow line atop the wall in left, tying it at 1. It was Swisher's eighth homer of the season and his sixth since May 27.
Jonny Gomes promptly untied it in the bottom of the second, falling behind 0-and-2 before slamming his ninth home run into the second deck in left, making it 2-1.
Heisey's two-run shot in the fifth made it 4-1.
"If you can win two series, that's what you're looking to do,'' Girardi said. "You're looking to win every series and we were able to do that. You don't like to lose the last game, but I thought our guys played pretty well on this trip.''