BOSTON -- The Alex Rodriguez/John Lackey battle produced little drama. Unfortunately for the Yankees, that also was the case in the Lackey/Hiroki Kuroda matchup, a one-sided affair that resulted in a 6-1 loss to the Red Sox Saturday in front of 37,517 at Fenway Park.
Of course, the game results ultimately surrendered the day's headlines to the main event: Yankees president Randy Levine vs. one of A-Rod's attorneys, Joe Tacopina, who accused the club of malfeasance in the handling of the third baseman's hip injury last fall and ensuing surgery.
The topic dominated Joe Girardi's postgame meeting with reporters, and clubhouse personnel are growing increasingly agitated at the continuing A-Rod circus that seems to bring a fresh level of absurdity almost daily.
"It's something that I'm sure as time goes on we'll understand more and more," Girardi said of Tacopina's comments, which first appeared in The New York Times. "But to me, it's too early to digest. And I have to worry about this, what we're doing here. I can't worry about that, accusations and stuff flying all over the place."
The "here" is what the Yankees have been doing on the field, which hasn't received all that much attention since Rodriguez returned Aug. 5. They lost for only the third time in their last nine games to fall 8½ games behind AL East-leading Boston.
"They are big losses, but you can't make too much of just one game and you have to go out and win a series tomorrow," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. We have to win series, and we have an opportunity to do that."
A struggling CC Sabathia (10-10, 4.66 ERA) will take on Ryan Dempster (6-8, 4.50) in Sunday night's series finale.
Lackey (8-10, 3.22), who has been among the most critical of A-Rod's being able to play as he appeals a 211-game suspension, allowed six hits and one run in 62/3 innings. He walked Rodriguez in the second inning, struck him out in the fourth and induced a groundout in the sixth. A-Rod finished 0-for-3 with a walk.
Kuroda (11-8, 2.41) had a rough day, though one that might have produced better results with more competent fielding and umpiring behind him. He allowed five runs (three earned) and a season-worst 11 hits in 52/3 innings. The 38-year-old righthander entered the game 4-1 with a 0.91 ERA in his previous six starts and was 5-2 with a 1.79 ERA in his previous 11.
"The fourth inning, I wish I could take that back," he said. It was an inning in which Boston scored three runs, one earned.
David Ortiz, who hit his 24th home run in the seventh off Adam Warren to make it 6-1, led off the fourth with a ground-rule double and went to third on Mike Carp's single. Kuroda struck out Daniel Nava looking and appeared as if he might get out of the inning unscathed when Stephen Drew pounded a hot grounder to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who never hesitated in going to second. But his throw pulled Eduardo Nuñez off the bag and Nuñez's relay throw was late as Ortiz scored. Overbay was charged with an error.
"I just didn't finish the throw," he said. "It ended up costing us . . . It's an easy double play. It should have been."
Carp then took off for third and appeared to be tagged out by A-Rod -- replays indicated as much -- but umpire Bill Welke called him safe. After Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out, RBI singles by Will Middlebrooks and Jacoby Ellsbury made it 3-0.
"I wanted to minimize the damage, but I couldn't do that," Kuroda said. "It was a bad outing."