Chamberlain allowed three runs in just four innings, lifted after 84 pitches because of the intensity of his workload to record those 12 outs. Clocked only in the low 90s, he refused to use either the delay or the bruised right knee he suffered last week in New York as excuses.
"I didn't see him favoring it," manager Joe Girardi said. "He never got it going, he never got in a rhythm in a sense. It wasn't like he was getting pounded, but we just felt that he worked so hard in those four innings that we were going to make a change."
The Yankees rallied to tie the game against Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, highlighted by a Mark Teixeira solo homer into the familiar right-field porch in the fifth inning, but Alfredo Aceves allowed three runs in relief and Phil Coke was hit for the second of two Chris Davis home runs.
After waiting out a delay of two hours and 24 minutes that featured heavy thunderstorms and golf-ball-sized hail, Chamberlain allowed New York to slip behind early, another chapter in his continuing first-inning struggles.
"I had to battle all night," Chamberlain said. "It's just one of those things. You're going to have those days where you have to battle and compete, and try to minimize the damage as much as you can."
With Chamberlain one out away from escaping a first inning that featured a standout defensive play by Alex Rodriguez, diving back to third base to catch Ian Kinsler off the bag, Texas scored twice on Marlon Byrd's line drive to right field, sending Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz scurrying home.
"It's all irritating, especially Alex doing a great job to make that play," Chamberlain said. "It wasn't a bad pitch to Marlon. He just put a good swing on it, and he did what he was supposed to do."
Chamberlain has permitted 11 runs (10 earned) in nine first innings this season, a 10.00 ERA. Girardi said that Chamberlain's experimental phase of warming up additionally was in place, and the Yankees continue to wonder why he has trouble getting going.
"He said he warmed up great," Girardi said. "He just had a hard time commanding his fastball. Maybe that's a result of only throwing one inning in the last 10 days because of his injury, but physically, he was fine. He just wasn't sharp."
Davis took Chamberlain deep onto the center-field berm for a 411-foot solo homer, his 11th, leading off the fourth inning. That would be the right-hander's final frame, bowing out after he was charged with three runs on four hits, walking four and striking out five.
The Yankees made it a game in the fifth, when Teixeira, a former Ranger, slugged his 14th home run to cut it to 3-1. Hideki Matsui added an RBI double off the right-field wall in the sixth, chasing home Brett Gardner, and Francisco Cervelli tied the game with a sharp single into shallow center.
But with Millwood out of the game after 5 2/3 innings -- and two balls off his pitching hand -- the Yankees were unable to inflict any damage on the Rangers' bullpen. New York left 12 men on base, including a seventh-inning spot where Nick Swisher hit into a double play with the bases loaded and one out.
"I thought we hit some balls hard," Girardi said. "I thought we had good at-bats off him. They came back to bite us a little bit tonight. But I thought we swung the bats pretty well; we just didn't get the one big hit."
That permitted the Rangers to crack through against the Yankees' bullpen, as Girardi opted to go with Aceves over Chien-Ming Wang, who is waiting in relief for an opportunity to continue his starting career.
Girardi said that he had Aceves warming mid-inning in the fourth, which is something they refuse to do with Wang as they try to keep his situation as normal as possible.
"Ace has been throwing the ball great for us, and it was just the time that we felt we'd go to Ace," Girardi said. "Now, Chien-Ming Wang will be the guy we go to tomorrow."
Aceves allowed a run-scoring single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the sixth before allowing two hits to open the seventh.
Hamilton logged an infield groundout and David Murphy lifted a sacrifice fly against Coke, increasing the Rangers' lead to three runs in support of winning pitcher Jason Jennings. Davis added his second homer of the game to lead off the eighth against Coke.
The loss may have also been costly for the Yankees, who lost Melky Cabrera in the bottom of the first inning to a strained right shoulder after he crashed into the center-field fence chasing Kinsler's triple. Gardner had a three-hit, three-steal game for New York in his place.
"I feel better right now, because I did ice three times and a couple of exercises," Cabrera said through an interpreter. "I think it might be a couple of days."