Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes pauses during the ninth inning...

Yankees relief pitcher Clay Holmes pauses during the ninth inning against the Reds on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Credit: AP/Frank Franklin II

The Yankees had dropped back-to-back-to-back games just once in this fabulous first half. So the odds were in favor of baseball’s best breaking a two-game slide Tuesday night, especially with one of its All-Stars as the starter and one of baseball’s worst wearing road red.

It looked like it was going to play out exactly that way with the Yankees three runs up and three outs away.

Gerrit Cole turned in seven innings of brilliant no-run, four-hit, 11-strikeout, one-walk work. But the Yankees’ bullpen threw it all away. Cincinnati rallied for four in the ninth and took a stunning 4-3 win at Yankee Stadium.

So make that three straight Yankees losses for the second time.

“For this season, it definitely feels a little bit unusual, which I think is a good thing,” Josh Donaldson said. “That just tells you how well that we have played.”

The Yankees fell to 61-26.

“You hope something like this doesn’t happen, but logically, it’s the law of averages to a certain extent,” Cole said. “Nobody’s perfect.”

Clay Holmes usually is. But he fell to 4-1 after being charged with four earned runs in appearance No. 39. The All-Star closer had allowed three runs, only two of them earned, over his first 38.

“The dude had like a point-4 going in,” Cole said of Holmes’ 0.46 ERA, which swelled to 1.37.

The Reds, just 33-54 after five straight wins, loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth on a walk, a single and a hit batter. Tyler Naquin followed with an RBI single. Then Holmes hit Kyle Farmer to force in a run, and it was 3-2.

“It can’t happen,” Holmes said. “I’ve got to be a little better at making some in-game adjustments. I think I just didn’t really get a good grip on the sinker.”

Enter Wandy Peralta.

Pinch hitter Donovan Solano grounded back to Peralta, who threw home for the force. Nick Senzel grounded to third and Donaldson got another force at home. But Jonathan India lined a two-run single to right-center for the 4-3 lead.

“They got us,” Aaron Boone said. “We hate all the losses.”

Alexis Diaz, brother of Mets closer Edwin Diaz, then saved it for Reiver Sanmartin.

“We’ve been very successful for a large part of the season,” Donaldson said. “Obviously, the last few games are not indicative of who we are. But it happens. It’s baseball.”

This game was indicative when it came to Cole. The five-time All-Star is still 8-2, but his ERA fell to 3.05.

“Once he got settled in there, he was dominant,” Boone said. “That fastball-slider combination was pretty deadly tonight.”

Boone used Aaron Judge only as a pinch hitter, choosing to rest him despite Monday’s day off after he sat Thursday with tightness in his calves.

But the Yankees still struck fast against Graham Ashcraft. They led 2-0 after three batters, with Anthony Rizzo lining a two-run single into center.

In the third, Ashcraft began by issuing two walks. One out later, Donaldson sent a fly ball to center. Senzel slipped and fell. He could only trap the ball. It went for an RBI single — 3-0.

Aaron Hicks was next. He fouled a pitch off his right shin and went down before slowly limping to the dugout. The Yankees announced Hicks had a contusion, and that X-rays were negative. But he was going to get a CT scan.

“It obviously got him pretty good,” Boone said. “Hoping for the best there.”<NO1><NO>

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