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Garcia a hard-luck loser

Freddy Garcia #36 of the New York Yankees

Freddy Garcia #36 of the New York Yankees pitches against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium. (May 20, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

A night earlier, Freddy Garcia watched the Yankees put five runs on the board before CC Sabathia even took the mound. He must have wondered what the heck happened in 24 hours.

Garcia took the loss Friday night against the Mets, but pinning the 2-1 defeat solely on him simply wouldn't be fair.

"Outstanding performance by Freddy,'' Joe Girardi said.

Garcia (2-4), coming off a bad outing Sunday night against Boston in which he allowed five runs (four earned) in 51/3 innings in a 7-5 loss, pitched a strong seven innings Friday night. He allowed two runs, five hits and two walks, lowering his ERA from 3.22 to 3.12.

"That's part of the game,'' Garcia said of the lack of run support. "Sometimes we hit, sometimes it's an out. But you have to keep going and try and do the best I can. I was feeling good and made my pitches.''

One pitch -- a down-and-in splitter that Daniel Murphy golfed into the seats in right to break a 1-1 tie in the sixth -- cost Garcia. "I thought it was a good pitch,'' he said. "He hit it with one hand, so there's nothing I can do about it.''

The Yankees' lone run came in the third on Mark Teixeira's 11th homer of the season on a 3-and-1 fastball from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. The ball just got over the wall, and it appeared a fan might have made contact with Carlos Beltran's glove as he reached into the crowd for the ball. Two-out doubles by Fernando Martinez and Justin Turner in the fourth tied the score at 1.

The Yankees, who had won three straight, have lost six straight games at home for the first time since 2003.

Derek Jeter felt bad about wasting Garcia's stellar outing. "It's always frustrating any time you have a starter go out there and give up two runs and you don't score,'' Jeter said. "On the other side, [Dickey] threw the ball well.''

Garcia's offense, which erupted in a 13-2 victory over the Orioles on Thursday night, looked almost helpless against Dickey, Mike O'Connor, Jason Isringhausen and Francisco Rodriguez. They retired the last 11 Yankees, striking out seven, and had 11 strikeouts overall.

After putting runners on first and second with none out in the fifth, the Yankees went 1-for-16.

Dickey, who came in 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA and without a victory since his first start April 3, allowed one run, four hits and three walks in six innings. "Tonight he had a good knuckleball working,'' said Nick Swisher, who was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. "You really couldn't tell where it was going.''

The Yankees went 1-for-10 against Dickey with runners in scoring position and left seven on base. Girardi attributed that more to the vagaries of the knuckleball than inconsistencies with the offense.

"Whenever you face a knuckleballer, you're not sure what's going to happen because it's not something guys face every day," Girardi said. "We had some opportunities.''

Rodriguez doubled to lead off the second and the Yankees left the bases loaded, but the fifth probably was their most frustrating goose egg. With runners on first and second and none out, Curtis Granderson flied out, Teixeira struck out looking and Rodriguez was robbed of an RBI single by shortstop Jose Reyes, who dived to glove his grounder up the middle and threw him out.

Russell Martin doubled with one out in the sixth, but Jorge Posada and Swisher struck out to strand him.

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