- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) - When Masahiro Tanaka pitches, the Yankees can usually count on a win.

The All-Star rookie, however, is facing his first real rough patch of the season.

Tanaka (12-4) gave up season highs of five runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings as the Yankees lost 5-3 to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. With the loss, the right-hander missed a chance to become the major league’s first 13-game winner.

Tanaka has anchored a shaky Yankees rotation missing CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. New York is 13-5 in his 18 starts, but he has lost three of his last four outings.


“It happens,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We know he’s not going to be perfect, we understand that. We know how good he’s been but we know he’s not going to be perfect. Every pitcher goes through that. If it goes for a long period of time I think you become concerned, but every pitcher goes through it.”

Tanaka struck out five and walked one, but was hurt by the home run ball, a recent trend for the right-hander.

“I think it had a lot to do with my command,” Tanaka said through a translator. “A lot of my pitches were going right down the middle.”

Nick Swisher hit a go-ahead two-run shot in the sixth, while Michael Brantley hit a solo homer in the seventh.

Tanaka has allowed at least one home run in six of his last seven starts after yielding none in his previous five outings. Since June 5, he has given up eight homers.

“I’ve felt throughout the season at times that I wasn’t able to perform the way that I really wanted to,” Tanaka said. “I just have to go out there and battle and try to be at my best.”

Swisher, who homered on a 1-2 pitch, knew the Indians would have a tough night against Tanaka.

“It was the first time we’ve ever seen him,” he said. “The first couple of at-bats you’re kind of feeling him out. In that situation from the scouting reports and video we’ve seen, he loves that split-slider. When I got in that two-strike count, he’d been burying that split all day long. For me, I was just lucky enough for him to hang that one.”

Brantley, a first-time All-Star, also had RBI doubles in the first and fifth, raising his average to .328.

“He’s a really good player,” Girardi said. “He’s a young player that’s really developed into one of the better outfielders in the game all-around, and he showed why tonight. It’s why he’s an All-Star.”

Trevor Bauer (3-4) allowed three runs in seven innings and retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced. New York’s only baserunner in that stretch came on Swisher’s fifth-inning error. Bauer struck out six and walked two in winning for the first time since June 16.

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