Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes delivers to a Royals batter during the...

Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes delivers to a Royals batter during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday. Credit: AP/Colin E. Braley

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Yankees won a game they probably shouldn’t have Monday night, overcoming their bullpen blowing four separate leads in what would be a victory in 11 innings.

They did not get away with one a night later.

With Nestor Cortes Jr. and his assortment of slow stuff combined with an at times unorthodox delivery not throwing off the opposition nearly as much as in previous outings and some sloppy defense reminiscent of the season’s first half, the Yankees fell to the Royals, 8-4, in front of 18,218 at Kauffman Stadium.

"Pretty infuriating," said catcher Kyle Higashioka, who came in with four career errors and committed two Tuesday, twice throwing into the outfield on steal attempts. "I hate to make errors like that, especially since one directly led to a run. It’s not acceptable."

The Yankees (62-51), in a dogfight with Oakland and Boston, not to mention hard-charging Toronto, for the two American League wild-card spots, committed four errors and were outhit 10-5 by the Royals (49-63).

The last 10 Yankees were retired after DJ LeMahieu’s RBI single in the sixth inning gave his team a 4-3 lead.

Cortes, coming in with a 2.15 ERA this season in 12 games (four starts), allowed five runs (four earned) and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

He was hurt by Higashioka's errors but also by a pair of homers by Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who upped his total to a career-best 29.

"Missed two pitches in the zone, he got me," Cortes said of Perez. "He’s a great hitter."

The second of those homers, a leadoff shot off Cortes in the bottom of the sixth, tied it at 4-4.

Cortes (0-1) rebounded to strike out Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi, but he allowed a single to Emmanuel Rivera (who ended Jameson Taillon’s night Monday with a single). Aaron Boone then called on seed-throwing righty Stephen Ridings. The 25-year-old, who grew up in Commack and attended St. Anthony’s High School, had electrified much of the fan base since debuting last Tuesday, striking out six in three scoreless outings comprising 3 1/3 innings.

That string of success did not continue Tuesday as Hunter Dozier greeted the 6-8, 220-pound Ridings by lining a 1-and-2, 97-mph fastball that had little movement to center, the RBI double making it 5-4.

"I left it pretty much right [down the] middle," Ridings said. "I knew out of my hand it wasn't going to be where I wanted it. And at that point, it’s out of your hand, there's nothing you can do but hope for the best."

The Royals added two more in the seventh when Michael A. Taylor doubled off Ridings to start the inning, then scored on Hanser Alberto’s sacrifice bunt that Ridings threw wildly to first. Alberto, who went to second on Ridings’ error, scored later in the inning from third on Nicky Lopez’s perfectly executed sacrifice bunt off lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez that made it 7-4.

The legs of Bronx native and Fordham Prep product Andrew Velazquez, who made his Yankees debut the night before, helped his team, down 2-0 after the first courtesy of Perez’s two-run homer, rally in the third against Royals starter Daniel Lynch, doubling and eventually scoring to make it 2-1.

The Yankees took the lead in the fourth on Higashioka’s seventh homer, but first since June 22 (also against the Royals), a two-run shot that made it 3-2.

Cortes ran his streak to 10 straight retired in the bottom half of the fifth by quickly recording two outs, but Whit Merrifield ended that with a double to right-center. Merrifield stole third and came home on Higashioka’s second throwing error of the night, this one glancing off Odor’s glove at third and shooting into left, which tied it at 3-3.

"Not his sharpest, but definitely kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance," Boone said of Cortes. "Pitches into the sixth inning with the chance there, we just couldn't finish tonight."

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