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NYY@TEX: Pettitte holds Rangers to two over six

ARLINGTON -- It was an appropriate time for Andy Pettitte to note, after spending the better part of two hours fruitlessly sweltering in the Texas heat, that this is not the first summer he has spent thirsting for run support.

Pettitte rolled with a similar situation when he was toiling across the state in an Astros uniform, but he's surely accustomed to having a healthier lineup bashing behind him here. Not so much this year for the Yankees, who took a 3-1 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark.

"You don't worry about it," Pettitte said. "I'm telling you, I ain't taking the mound worrying about whether we're going to score runs or not. Our guys are grinding, and that's all you can do. Our team, this is what we have. We're going out there and battling and competing, and I love it."

Neither Pettitte, nor the rest of the Yankees, had much to love about Wednesday's results. The Yankees had not seen Matt Garza in nearly three seasons, but it did not take long for them to remember why they never seemed upset that he had left the American League East.

The newly acquired right-hander made a terrific first impression in his Rangers debut, settling in after a rough first inning to earn a standing ovation as he limited the Yankees to an unearned run over 7 1/3 innings.

"He's got good stuff," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's got a very good fastball and a good slider. We hit some balls; we hit them at people. We had an opportunity in the first inning and weren't able to score. He kind of got on a roll after that."

It marked the sixth loss in eight games for the Yankees, who remained seven games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox, and ensured a losing record during their seven-game road trip to Boston and Texas.

"We just weren't able to get anything going tonight," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said. "That's kind of been the story for the last little while. We need a couple of guys to get hot and a couple of other guys to follow suit. Hopefully, we'll get on a roll tomorrow."

The Yankees looked like they might be able to carry some momentum from Tuesday's ninth-inning rally as Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki opened the first inning with hits, but Garza recovered to strike out Robinson Cano and Lyle Overbay before retiring Vernon Wells on a groundout.

"It was huge," Rangers catcher Geovany Soto said. "That inning could've gone a lot of different ways, but Garza stepped up and kept it there. That was pretty good to see, especially for the first outing with the Rangers. It's good for him to start off with the right foot."

Pettitte was frustrated after being stuck with the loss, but the veteran left-hander turned in a quality outing -- one of his best over a recent stretch -- in limiting the Rangers to two runs over six-plus innings.

"I feel good -- I can't take anything from it," Pettitte said. "When you lose, you can't take nothing from it. It's a loss, we need wins and it's frustrating."

From a personal standpoint, a highlight of the night for Pettitte came in the second inning, when he tied and passed Sandy Koufax on baseball's all-time strikeouts list with a swinging punchout of Mitch Moreland before getting Geovany Soto looking.

A.J. Pierzynski drove in both of Texas' runs against Pettitte, drilling a first-inning RBI single to knock in Ian Kinsler before golfing a solo sixth-inning blast over the wall in right field, his 10th homer of the season.

"Pierzynski killed him -- I mean, he had both of the RBIs against him," Girardi said. "Andy usually handles lefties very well, but he left a slider ... it was down, but he left it kind of middle in. He hit it out."

Lifetime against Pettitte, Pierzynski improved to 11-for-28 (.393), the third-highest average among active players (minimum 25 at-bats) off the southpaw and the highest among left-handed hitters.

"The home run was just luck," Pierzynski said. "That ball was down, probably off the plate, away. I just caught it with the barrel. Luckily, it backspun and went far enough; that was just pure luck. A lob wedge, I think."

Acquired from the Cubs on Monday in a five-player deal, Garza scattered five singles, walking none and striking out five. It was his first start against the Yankees since Sept. 20, 2010, when he was with the Rays.

The Yankees scored their only run in the sixth, as Gardner hit a grounder back to the mound that Garza bobbled and threw awkwardly past first base. Gardner raced to third base, then came home as Cano lined a high fastball for a hard single past the drawn-in infield.

"We tied it up, but we weren't able to get anything else going," Gardner said. "We had six hits tonight; we had a couple of opportunities in the first inning to score, but for the most part, we didn't get a whole lot going."

David Murphy's eighth-inning homer made it a two-run game. Eduardo Nunez, one of the heroes from Tuesday night's win, came up as the tying run with two outs in the ninth to again face Rangers closer Joe Nathan, but an infield popout sealed the loss.

"I don't think anybody's got their head down," Pettitte said. "I think everybody's giving a great effort. We've just got to keep doing that, and hopefully, we can figure out a way to turn this thing around."

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