ARLINGTON, Texas - A hit is a hit is a hit.
Michael Young led off the 10th with an infield single and Josh Hamilton sent a slow grounder that found its way through the hole at second for a single, putting runners on first and second with none out. Vladimir Guerrero sent a grounder to third that Alex Rodriguez stopped with a diving play to his left, throwing out the designated hitter.
The Yankees then intentionally walked Nelson Cruz to bring up David Murphy, who got ahead 3-and-0 before lining a 3-and-2 pitch to right, the Rangers' hardest-hit ball of the inning and Murphy's second big hit of the night. The outfielder's two-run homer off A.J. Burnett in the sixth gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
"A hit is a hit, no matter how they are, they're hits," said Rivera, who came in having allowed just one run in his previous 27 appearances, a span of 27 2/3 innings. "In the newspaper, they're line drives. Doesn't matter to me, they're hits."
The Yankees (69-43), whose lead in the East dropped to a half game over the Rays and five games over the Red Sox, had nine hits but few of them when most needed. The Yankees, with a lineup missing two key components - at least at the start - went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base overall.
"We had opportunities to win the game and we didn't get it done," manager Joe Girardi said.
Girardi posted what was, to say the least, an unimposing lineup that featured Marcus Thames batting third as the designated hitter and Austin Kearns batting fifth. (Thames and Kearns did end up with two hits each.)
Robinson Cano, though he would pinch hit in the sixth and play the last five innings, didn't start because he was sick, and Mark Teixeira didn't make the trip from New York so he could be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's third child.
Girardi also disclosed after the game that he wanted to stay away from Jorge Posada, unless an emergency arose; Posada showed up with a shoulder the catcher told him felt "funny," the result of a throw in Monday's game. Girardi said he was optimistic Posada could play Wednesday night.
Burnett, scratched from Sunday night's start with back spasms and coming off a lousy start Aug. 2 against Toronto, pitched well. He allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings and kicked himself afterward for just one pitch that got away.
After the Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the sixth off lefthander C.J. Wilson, Burnett couldn't hold it, giving up a two-run homer to Murphy, on a first-pitch four-seamer that came back over the middle. That put the Rangers ahead 3-2.
"It's a shutdown inning," Burnett said. "We take pride in the shutdown and the fact that I didn't go out there and shut them down after we scored ."
But Alex Rodriguez led off the eighth and pounded Frank Francisco's 2-and-1 pitch into the grass in deep center, his 18th homer, and 601st of his career, tying it at 3. Curtis Granderson, who was inserted as a pinch runner, got to third with one out later in the inning but he was stranded when Francisco Cervelli lined out softly to first and Brett Gardner, coming off a 2-for-21 homestand and already 0-for-3 this night, grounded out.
The Yankees, who had a runner thrown out at the plate - Nick Swisher to end the fifth - have left a combined 20 on base the last two games and are coming off a homestand in which they didn't do much hitting with runners on.
"You go through periods like that and other times pitchers bear down," said Derek Jeter, who grounded into a double play in the ninth after Cano led off with a single. "They pitched well; it's the reason why they've been playing well all year. You'd like to get those runs in but we weren't able to do it."
One inning in which the Yankees didn't get anyone on base was the second, but Girardi thought they should have.
Lance Berkman led off the inning with a routine grounder to short. Shortstop Elvis Andrus' throw pulled first baseman Jorge Cantu off the bag. Cantu appeared to tag Berkman before he got to the bag but first-base umpire Paul Emmel called Berkman safe.
Rangers manager Ron Washington jumped out of the dugout to argue and, after a few moments, Emmel conferred with plate umpire Mike Estabrook and Berkman was called out.
That brought Girardi out, first for an argument with Emmel, who ejected Girardi from a game against the Angels on July 20 at the Stadium, and then with Estabrook. That discussion became heated enough to produce the rare sight of bench coach Tony Peña getting between the two and ushering Girardi back into the dugout.
"My contention is I've never seen it [overturned]," Girardi said. "It's a tough call for both guys because the first-base umpire going to be somewhat blocked out and I don't know how the home-plate umpire saw it, either."