MIAMI - On a night the Yankees went comatose at the plate, one bad pitch was enough to get Masahiro Tanaka beat.
The righthander, though not nearly as sharp as he had been in his previous two starts since coming off the disabled list, still entered the seventh with the score tied at 1.
That changed when seldom-used Derek Dietrich led off the inning with a homer to help send the Yankees to a 2-1 loss to the Marlins on Monday night in front of 33,961 at Marlins Park. It was the Yankees' third loss in four games on this trip, dropping them to 34-29 and one game behind Tampa Bay in the AL East.
"It's not about our offense," Tanaka said of a unit that had three hits. "I blame myself."
Tanaka (4-2), who was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts since coming off the DL, allowed two runs and nine hits in seven innings. He struck out six.
As much excitement as Dietrich's homer provided, it paled to what occurred in the ninth, courtesy of -- who else? -- Alex Rodriguez, making a return to his hometown.
Righty A.J. Ramos came in for the ninth, taking over for Carter Capps who, with a fastball peaking at 100 mph, struck out the side in the eighth.
Ramos walked Brian McCann to start the ninth, and Brendan Ryan came on to pinch run. Mark Teixeira, who homered in the third. struck out, as did Garrett Jones. Joe Girardi sent up A-Rod to pinch hit for Stephen Drew, bringing the crowd, suddenly charged with energy, to its feet. Ramos got A-Rod to fly to right on a 1-and-1 pitch for his ninth save.
"Absolute awesome situation to be in," Rodriguez said. "Fun, exciting, got a good pitch to hit and just popped it straight up. I felt really good about the situation. You can't put me in a better spot. He hung me a slider, I wanted to hit a strike, I wanted to hit it in the air. I just popped it straight up. I just missed it."
Said Girardi: "That would have been a nice little story, but it didn't happen."
Tanaka entered the seventh having not allowed a hit since Christian Yelich's single in the third. But he fell behind Dietrich 2-and-0 before grooving a 92-mph fastball that the third baseman, who entered the game hitless in two major-league at-bats but with a double earlier in the night, lined down the rightfield line to make it 2-1.
"I was trying to go outside more," Tanaka said through his translator. "It just kind of drifted inside."
In the bottom of the eighth, recent bullpen addition Sergio Santos did a brilliant job cleaning up the mess made by Jose Ramirez, who loaded the bases with none out. Santos struck out two of three batters to keep the Yankees' deficit at one.
"Obviously when you come to a new team, you want to show what you're capable of," said Santos, who allowed a homer and an RBI double in his first appearance Saturday in Baltimore. "That first game wasn't quite what I had in mind or the Yankees had in mind. It's nice to have this to build on."
The Yankees stung a handful of balls against Stony Brook University product Tom Koehler (5-4, 3.76) -- Chase Headley was robbed twice on liners caught by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria -- but managed only one run and three hits in seven innings.
"Some really good defensive plays on their part," Girardi said. "It's unfortunate. I thought we actually swung the bats pretty good and didn't have much to show for it."