Yanks manage one hit in loss to A's

Yanks manage one hit in loss to A's

NEW YORK -- Kei Igawa hasn't changed much since returning from his seven-week stint in the Minor Leagues.

He struggled in his first month in the Major Leagues. He struggled in San Francisco last week. And he definitely struggled against the A's on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Jason Kendall and Shannon Stewart hit back-to-back home runs and Dan Johnson added an upper-deck shot off Igawa as the Yankees fell to the Athletics, 7-0. The left-hander struck out four and walked three against the A's, allowing five hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Igawa has one quality start this season, which came against the Indians about three months ago. Still, Yankees manager Joe Torre saw positives in his start.

"I thought it was better than last time, the fact that he stumbled a little bit and then righted himself," Torre said. "So hopefully -- hopefully -- we are going in the right direction."

One of the three pitches that went the wrong direction -- over the right-field wall and into the stands -- was a 1-2 slider to Johnson in the sixth.

"The slider that he threw was probably a good pitch to throw, except he didn't throw that one with the same conviction that he's thrown all of the others," pitching coach Ron Guidry said. "That one was just like a get-me-over strike slider. That's something that you can't do up here, because these guys in the big leagues, they're going to hit that.

"He realizes that now. He knew it, but he didn't know why the last time. So that's good. He's learning. It's going to take a while for him to learn so much of this game, the way that it's played here and what he has to do here to the hitters in this league."

Igawa now owns a career 2-2 record with 20 walks and 30 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. And don't forget the biggest number of them all.

The Yankees signed Igawa to a five-year contract that amounted to a $46 million investment, factoring in the $26 million posting fee paid to the Hanshin Tigers for Igawa's rights.

Then again, the entire Yankees offense didn't look like it was earning its money on Saturday.

Oakland starting pitcher Chad Gaudin carried a no-hitter into the sixth, but Johnny Damon finally broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out single up the middle.

"We were swinging the bat decent, and I didn't think I would be the only hit we got," Damon said. "It just turned out to be, I guess."

Later that inning -- after a walk put runners at first and second -- Alex Rodriguez came to the plate. It was the Yankees' first, and only, offensive threat of the game.

A-Rod worked the count to 3-0 before Gaudin took him to a full count. Then, as the runners took off, Gaudin threw a fastball.

Rodriguez swung and missed. Threat over.

"I was just thinking about throwing a strike," said Gaudin, who mostly located two-seamers and sliders around the strike zone edges. "I just wanted to let him know that I was going to make him earn whatever he got, so I attacked him."

Posada said that Gaudin didn't have no-hit stuff; the Yankees just couldn't find gaps and didn't come through.

"I'm not talking about unlucky," Posada said. "I just think luck comes when you go after it. It seems like, at times, we just go through the motions. Today is one of those cases. That's the way it is. I think everybody knows what I'm talking about."

Torre said that the Yankees looked loose coming into the game -- all systems go. That's why he mused after the game about his slumping team.

"It's not only puzzling to me, but you can go in and ask the hitters, and I'm sure they'd tell you the same thing," he said.

But wait -- the tough times didn't end with the offense. They continued with the bullpen.

The 'pen couldn't hold the A's down after Igawa's exit, as relievers Scott Proctor and Mike Myers combined to pitch one-third of an inning, surrendering four hits, a walk and three runs before Luis Vizcaino got out of the seventh.

Proctor, who burned articles of equipment just outside the Yankees' dugout after the game, gave up three of the four runs.

"He just needs to get his act together based on the fact that he needs to be able to get ahead in the count and locate his pitches," Torre said. "He hasn't been able to do that."

To get back to winning, Torre said the Yankees have to be intense without being tense -- find a balance that will lead to consistency, such as when the team went on a nine-game winning streak earlier this month.

"This game is all about consistency," Torre said. "Within the at-bats, and the guys coming out of the bullpen, it's repetition, repetition, repetition."

That leads to winning, winning, winning. But for now, as the Yankees' record slides to 2-8 in their past 10 games, it's the exact opposite: losing, losing, losing.

Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.