New York Yankees starting pitcher Javier Vazquez #31 throws in...

New York Yankees starting pitcher Javier Vazquez #31 throws in the top of the first inning against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium. (June 18, 2010) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Javier Vazquez continued Friday night what he'd been doing much of the past month. Unfortunately for him, the Yankees continued what they'd been doing the previous couple of days: not much of anything at the plate.

Vazquez allowed only one run, in the first inning, but his teammates failed to get anything across against Mets starter Hisanori Takahashi and four Mets relievers in a 4-0 loss at the Stadium, their third straight.

The Yankees have a combined three runs and 11 hits in 21 innings against their last three opponents' starting pitchers.

"A little unexpected after the way we swung the bats against [Roy] Halladay," hitting coach Kevin Long said of the slump that followed Tuesday's 8-3 victory over the Phillies. "But it's part of baseball. Been through it before. This is just one of those times. We'll continue to grind, we'll continue to get after it, we'll continue to work, and you know what? It will turn around."

Derek Jeter, who went 1-for-5 and had "a tough day," according to Long, credited Takahashi. But he also said it's time for the Yankees' offense, which went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position Friday, to produce.

"The last three games . . . sometimes you tip your hat to the pitcher, but we have to find ways to score some runs," Jeter said. "We had a couple opportunities tonight but collectively, we haven't been swinging the bats too well."

Vazquez (6-6) gave up three hits, two in the first inning, and one run in seven innings, striking out four and walking three. It was his fourth straight strong start and sixth in his past seven starts, during which he has a 2.70 ERA.

"It's frustrating not getting the pitcher some runs," said Jorge Posada, who went 1-for-3 with a walk but grounded out with the bases loaded in the sixth. "Javy threw a hell of a game and we threw a hell of a game the other day. It is frustrating not to get some runs on the board."

The Yankees, 9-for-62 in their previous two games, managed only four hits off Takahashi in six innings, with their best scoring chance coming in the sixth. Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira lined one-out singles. Alex Rodriguez grounded to first, with both runners advancing, and Robinson Cano, after an eight-pitch battle, walked to load the bases. But Posada, who hit grand slams last Saturday and Sunday, hit a chopper to David Wright, who barehanded it and threw out the slow-footed catcher.

"Very frustrating,'' said A-Rod, whom manager Joe Girardi is leaning toward starting at designated hitter Saturday. A-Rod started in the field for the first time since June 10 in Baltimore and said he felt no effects of the tendinitis in his hip flexor. "Obviously if you can't score runs, you're not going to win. Javy just did a fantastic job out there for seven innings, pitched his guts out. And offensively, we've got to step up and we've got to start tomorrow."

Girardi looked at the big picture. "You're going to go through this, and you can't jump off the bridge when you lose a couple games in a row and you don't score runs. This is a long season. We're 41-26, we're tied for first place. We haven't scored runs the last three days, but at any time, that can turn around."

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