Brett Gardner starting to connect at last for Yankees

Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner connects in the Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner connects in the bottom of the second. (July 9, 2013) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Brett Gardner finally joined the rest of the city and looked hot for the first time this month.

Gardner, who entered Tuesday night's game with just one hit in his previous 25 at-bats, went 2-for-4 with one run scored.

Unfortunately, no one else in the Yankees' lineup could do much of anything to support CC Sabathia's complete game as Kansas City defeated the Yankees, 3-1, at Yankee Stadium.

"When you get four baserunners after the first inning, it's hard to do a lot," a frustrated Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game.

Gardner, with two singles, accounted for one-third of the Yankees six hits. It was a much-needed night for the Yankees leadoff hitter, who also did not strike out for the first time in 17 games. On Monday night, Gardner set a franchise record by striking out in his 16th consecutive game, passing Alex Rodriguez and Stan Bahnsen, who had streaks of 15 straight games.

Before the game, Girardi said he needed Gardner to get back on track. Before beginning the strikeout streak, Gardner had been hitting .285. During the 16-game stretch, he struck out 22 times, was 14-for-67 and saw his average drop to .270.

"He's struggling a little bit right now," Girardi said. "It started in Minnesota. He was swinging the bat great before that. He's just been in a little funk right now. I can't put my finger on it."

Gardner seemed determined to do anything to get on base Tuesday night as he led off the first inning with a bunt. That was the first of four first-inning singles that resulted in the Yankees' only run. Yankees fans looked and sounded ecstatic to see their players come out swinging. But there wouldn't be much more of that. Sabathia (9-7) was burned by solo homers from No. 9 hitter David Lough and cleanup man Billy Butler in the sixth and seventh innings.

"It's frustrating," Sabathia said of the home runs.

The Yankees threatened to get something going again in the eighth inning when Gardner got his second hit, a hard single to leftfield. He was left on second base, however, after Ichiro Suzuki grounded out to second and Robinson Cano struck out swinging.

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