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Yankees waste chances, lose 3-1 to Indians

By Tom Withers

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Aug. 25 2012 9:41 p.m. MDT

New York Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki runs out a ground ball in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, in Cleveland. Suzuki was out. The Indians won 3-1.

Tony Dejak, Associated Press

CLEVELAND — With a few potential Hall of Famers and a smattering of All-Stars, the New York Yankees' lineup is loaded with big hitters.

On Saturday night, none of them got the big hit.

New York wasted a complete game by Hiroki Kuroda and blew two late scoring chances against Justin Masterson in a 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians, who snapped a nine-game losing streak and won for just the fifth time in August.

Down 3-0, the Yankees had a chance in the sixth inning, when they loaded the bases with none out against Masterson (10-11). But after getting a sacrifice fly by Mark Teixeira, New York was unable to push across another run. The Yankees then loaded the bases again in the seventh, but failed to score.

New York stranded eight runners from the fifth through the seventh.

"It happens," manager Joe Girardi said. "Our guys had pretty good at-bats. We weren't able to get that big hit."

Kuroda (12-9) had one bad inning — the first. He put two on with a hit batter and a walk before grooving a sinker to Michael Brantley, whose three-run homer would be the only runs Cleveland needed. Kuroda allowed four hits, walked two and struck out six in his fifth career complete game.

It was only Kuroda's second loss in 12 starts dating to June 25.

"He made the one mistake with his fastball to Brantley," Girardi said. "He left it down the middle and it got hit out."

For the second time this month, Masterson ended a long skid for the Indians, whose stunning second-half collapse has dropped them from playoff contention to fourth in the AL Central. On Aug. 8, Masterson beat Minnesota and stopped Cleveland's 11-game slide, one loss shy of the club record.

"He's our go-to guy whenever we're going through tough times," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He'll get us out of it. He's our guy."

The Indians, who were just 3½ games out of first place on July 26, won for only the fifth time in 27 games.

"It's been rough," said closer Chris Perez, who worked the ninth for his 33rd save. "I've never been through something like this. I was here in 2010, when we were pretty brutal — but we were brutal all year. To go from competing to all of a sudden three weeks later ... it was just a free-fall."

Masterson, roughed up by Oakland in his previous start, allowed one run and seven hits. He walked two, struck out six and worked his way out of the mess in the sixth.

Vinnie Pestano replaced Masterson in the seventh, inheriting two runners with two outs. Pestano walked Robinson Cano to load the bases before breaking Teixeira's bat on a popup.

"We didn't get the big hit," Teixeira said. "But between Masterson and the two relievers they threw out there, it's tough. Their eighth- and ninth-inning guys are two of the best in baseball."

Teixeira was especially impressed with Pestano.

"Pestano's got dirty stuff," he said. "I don't want to throw out a Mariano (Rivera) comparison with that cutter. That's a really tough cutter. He throws it hard. He throws it from sidearm angle, which is really tough to see. His numbers show it."

Perez pitched a perfect ninth, striking out Derek Jeter for the final out.

The colorful closer punctuated the strikeout with a fist pump, and moments later, the Indians lined up in the infield to exchange high-fives and celebrate a rare win.

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