David Robertson pitches during the ninth inning. (June 28, 2012)

David Robertson pitches during the ninth inning. (June 28, 2012) Credit: David Pokress

Bang. Just like that, the five-game winning streak went kaput.

It looked good for the Yankees going into the ninth inning Thursday night. But with Joe Girardi wanting to stay away from Rafael Soriano and use David Robertson as little as possible, the bullpen imploded spectacularly in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox at the Stadium.

"It's tough. It stinks,'' Robertson said. "We had the game right there and a couple things didn't go our way. I made one bad pitch and they made me pay for it.''

After Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada put runners on first and third with none out -- Rapada made a horrendous throw on what likely was a double-play ball -- Girardi did go to Robertson. And Dayan Viciedo struck the deciding blow, crushing his 1-and-0 fastball for a three-run homer to leftfield to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead.

Robertson didn't call out his manager afterward, but he didn't mask his irritation at not starting the ninth inning. "It's not my decision,'' said Robertson, sounding as terse as the usually affable reliever can sound.

Did he think he'd start the ninth? "I thought I was,'' he said.

Girardi explained that Robertson, who recently came off the disabled list after suffering an oblique injury and pitched the night before, still must be handled with care. If the double play had been turned, Robertson would have come in for the potential final batter.

"He has been hurt, so I'm going to be careful,'' Girardi said. "His velocity hasn't been as consistent as it was before he did get hurt . . . He's not quite there, but we'll get him there.''

Robertson said, "I'm fine. I feel absolutely fine,'' adding that in general, it's more challenging for a reliever to come in mid-inning.

"I would definitely say it's a little tougher,'' said Robertson, who threw 12 pitches Wednesday afternoon against the Indians. "You get a clean inning, you've got the opportunity to maybe get an out and allow a walk or even give up a base hit and find your way out of it because you kind of have a rhythm and you're on the mound.''

Lost a bit in some of the postgame second-guessing hysteria was that Girardi's mix-and-match plan actually worked -- until Rapada threw the baseball like a javelin into centerfield.

After lefthander Boone Logan got Adam Dunn on a fly to center and righthander Eppley struck out Paul Konerko looking to end the eighth, Eppley allowed a single by Alex Rios to start the ninth. Next came Rapada to face A.J. Pierzynski, who grounded right back to him. But instead of starting a 1-6-3 double play, Rapada sidearmed the ball well behind Derek Jeter as he moved to cover the bag, putting runners at the corners.

"I did my job as a pitcher, I just didn't do my job as a fielder and I put D-Rob in a bad situation,'' Rapada said. "It's really tough. I really let the team down tonight.''

Said Jeter, whose bid for a tying hit backed up Rios against the rightfield wall to end the game: "That's a play he makes 99 out of 100 times, but today he didn't. It's part of the game.''

Alejandro De Aza (four hits) homered three-quarters of the way up the second deck in rightfield with two outs in the top of the fifth, but the Yankees went ahead in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and no one on base, Curtis Granderson singled, Alex Rodriguez doubled for the second time in the game to tie the score -- his long drive to left-center went off the heel of De Aza's glove -- and Robinson Cano doubled to right-center to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. With two outs in the eighth, Mark Teixeira hit his 13th homer to make it 3-1.

Robertson's second blown save in three attempts flushed what would have been Ivan Nova's 10th victory of the season. Nova allowed one run and six hits in 71/3 innings. "He was really good tonight,'' Girardi said.

Girardi mixed and matched after Nova's departure, and it went well -- until it didn't.

"It's not the way you want to lose a game, but there's going to be physical errors. They're going to happen,'' Girardi said. "You just have to move on.''

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