D-backs roughed up in the Bronx
Hernandez tagged for three long balls in four innings
NEW YORK -- Interleague Play can't end soon enough for the D-backs, who have found American League East teams to be a bit more than they can handle.
Arizona lost for the fourth time in five games against the AL on Wednesday night, as it dropped a 7-2 decision to the Bronx Bombers at Yankee Stadium.
The timing of this series couldn't have come at a worse time for the D-backs, who have now lost five out of six. Meanwhile, the Yankees' struggles during the first two months of the season now seem like a distant memory. Wednesday's win was their eighth straight, and their once-stagnant offense is suddenly hitting on all cylinders.
"That's what happens when a team is on a roll, and they're swinging the bats well," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said about the Yankees' lineup. "The balls they hit hard find the seats, and the ones that don't find holes."
The Yankees' recipe for success was tried and true. They found a way to get runners on against Arizona starter Livan Hernandez, and then brought them home with the long ball.
Hernandez has made a living of working the corners. He prefers to walk a hitter rather than give in. That strategy might work against some teams that expand the strike zone, but the veteran-laden Yankees lineup simply doesn't swing at pitches off the plate with runners on.
That, combined with Hernandez's struggles with his command, yielded an ugly line for the veteran, as he allowed seven runs on nine hits and five walks in just four innings.
"I missed a lot of pitches," said Hernandez, who fell to 5-4. "A lineup like that, you don't want to miss too many pitches. Just a bad day. Everybody has bad days, so I can't put my head down. I didn't give us a chance to win. Seven runs in [four] innings is ridiculous."
In his victories this year, Hernandez has a 2.15 ERA, but in losses, his ERA balloons to 11.84.
Hernandez came into the game having allowed just six homers in 86 innings, but he wound up allowing three on a blustery night.
After his team staked him to a 1-0 lead in the second inning, Hernandez allowed a leadoff homer to Jorge Posada, the catcher's eighth of the year.
Then, in the third, slugger Alex Rodriguez blasted his 25th homer, a two-run shot that came on a first-pitch hanging slider that ricocheted off the facing of the upper deck in left.
In the fourth, with two outs, the Yankees managed two ground-ball singles and a walk before Hideki Matsui blasted a high fastball for a three-run homer that gave the Yankees a 7-1 lead.
"Obviously, the Matsui home run hurt the most, and we just couldn't mount anything enough to come back and put [Yankees starter Mike] Mussina in a position where we got his back to the wall," Melvin said.
Mussina (3-3) was on top of his game as he picked up his 242nd career win, his first since May 9. The right-hander had command of his fastball, cut fastball, knuckle curve and slider, which made him unpredictable.
"It's all about keeping us off balance, and that's exactly what he did," first baseman Chad Tracy said. "He took something off his fastball at times, put something on his fastball, in and out, up and down. He did his job. He was on tonight."
With the Yankee Stadium crowd of 53,891 chanting "Mooooose" every time he got two strikes on a hitter, Mussina allowed two runs on six hits and fanned seven before departing to a standing ovation with two outs in the eighth.
"He was throwing all his pitches for strikes, and he had some good movement on his fastball tonight, and his cutter was just pinpoint tonight. It was tough to hit," said third baseman Mark Reynolds, who doubled off the left-field wall in the second. "Anytime a guy with that kind of stuff has that kind of control, it makes for a long night."
And playing the Red Sox and Yankees has made for a long week for the D-backs.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.