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Yankees' offense flat again in loss to Royals

Yankees left fielder Zoilo Almonte is dejected after

Yankees left fielder Zoilo Almonte is dejected after striking out in the bottom of the sixth. (July 9, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Paging Derek Jeter.

Paging Alex Rodriguez.

Paging, well, anyone who might be able to inject this nearly flat-lined Yankees offense with something.

Its third straight ugly performance made last week's six-game winning streak seem like a distant memory as the Yankees lost, 3-1, to the Royals Tuesday night in front of 35,797 at the Stadium.

It was the third straight game -- all losses -- in which the Yankees (48-42) produced one run. They had six hits, only two after the first inning.

"I feel like these guys can get it done,'' Joe Girardi said, again peppered with questions about a lifeless offense and how much he hopes some of the injured players can provide a life when, and if, they come back. "I'll always believe that, that's the bottom line. We're going to have to score some more runs, there's no question about that. But I believe we can do it.''

After James Shields shut them down for seven innings -- one run, five hits -- the Yankees went quietly against Tim Collins and Greg Holland, who picked up his 22nd save.

CC Sabathia (9-7, 3.99) lost despite throwing a complete game. He allowed three runs and seven hits, including solo homers on fastballs in to David Lough and Billy Butler.

"I have to shut down the other offenses and win games, whether it's 1-0 or 12-0,'' Sabathia said. "I have to do a better job.''

The lefthander actually outpitched Shields much of the night. But after leading 1-0 through five, he allowed Lough's homer in the sixth that tied it, and Butler's shot in the seventh that made it 2-1. Eric Hosmer's double in the eighth made it 3-1.

In past years, that deficit was considered one that could be rectified with one swing. And there was a time, meaning as recently as last year, when "the Yankees hit too many home runs'' actually was a serious concern for some fans and media.

This edition has them clamoring for those too-many-homers days. Of the club's last 38 hits, 35 have been singles. It's no surprise that entering the night, the Yankees ranked 13th of 15 AL teams in slugging (.379) and 12th in runs (349).

"We have not scored a ton of runs all year long is the bottom line,'' Girardi said. "As I said when we left spring [training], we were going to have to win a lot of close games. We weren't going to score the runs we did last year. And that's what we're going through.''

Emblematic of it all was a first inning in which the Yankees collected four hits . . . and one run.

Brett Gardner led off with a bunt single and Ichiro Suzuki followed with a single, putting runners at the corners. Robinson Cano laced a single to right to bring in Gardner for a 1-0 lead. It was Cano's team-best 59th RBI.

Travis Hafner, in a 13-for-58 slump, struck out, but rookie Zoilo Almonte singled to right to load the bases. Coach Rob Thomson held Ichiro at third, a decision Girardi said he was OK with. Shields, however, got out of it, and allowed only one hit over the next six innings.

"Obviously, getting some of the guys that are hurt, getting those guys back, that's going to be a big help,'' Hafner said. "But I think guys that are here can swing the bats better, obviously myself. But for the moment, we just have to play well with the guys that are here. We can't be worrying about other people.''

Said Sabathia: "Getting back Jete, Al, Cervy , Grandy . . . The guys that have been called up have stepped up and done a good job, but it's hard to replace those guys. We'll be glad to get them back.''

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