- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - Robinson Chirinos knew which pitch was coming and where it was headed.

Yet somehow the fastball from reliever Tony Barnette still squirted out of the Rangers catcher’s glove for a passed ball that allowed the winning run to score in the bottom of the ninth inning of Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Yankees.

“It’s my fault,” Chirinos said.

Barnette (5-3) blamed himself for the leadoff walk that put Chase Headley on base in the first place.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said. “You walk a guy to start an inning, most of the time he’s going to score.”

The Rangers won the first two of the four-game series and led by four runs going into the ninth inning in the third matchup. But they leave the Bronx with a split after dropping two straight in the Yankees’ last at-bat.

It had been more than three decades since Texas lost on a game-ending passed ball. On June 16, 1986, knuckleballer Charlie Hough carried a no-hitter into the ninth against the Angels. He wound up losing the no-hitter, the shutout and then the game in that inning.

This season, the Rangers have nine walk-off defeats; no other team in the majors came into Thursday with more than five.

Still, the AL leaders have won 12 of 16.

Shin-Soo Choo opened the game with his 18th career leadoff home run. But Texas batters struck out 16 times, and A.J. Griffin gave up the tying homer to Didi Gregorius in the fifth. Gregorius had the winning home run Wednesday after the Yankees rallied from the four-run ninth-inning deficit.

Griffin, who retired 12 in a row before Gregorius’ homer, departed after throwing 88 pitches in five innings. He allowed the one run and two hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.

“I felt like I kind of ironed some stuff out in my delivery and I was able to repeat it better,” Griffin said, “and I’m just being smarter with my pitches.”

Adrian Beltre singled to lead off the top of the ninth, but Aroldis Chapman (2-0) retired the next three batters.

Yankees starter Michael Pineda struck out Rougned Odor with two runners on to end the first and didn’t allow a hit after that shaky opening inning. He struck out 12 in six innings.

After Headley’s walk in the ninth, Gregorius came up again with a chance to win it - but this time he sacrificed, bunting Headley to second with one out. Aaron Hicks then walked.

Starlin Castro grounded out to first to put the runners on second and third with two outs. Then with Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate, Headley just beat the throw at home.

“I guarantee 99 out of 100 times he comes up with that,” manager Jeff Banister said Chirinos.

PRO-PROFAR

Jurickson Profar started as shortstop for the second time this season for the Rangers, giving Elvis Andrus a breather with a day game after a night game. Profar has played all four infield positions in 2016 after he was limited to 12 games the past two years because of a shoulder injury.

Banister called it a “brave new world” to manage Profar’s playing time. There’s little precedent on how to keep a talented young player sharp and healthy in this situation.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Texas continues its 10-game road trip with a three-game series at Minnesota, with LHP Martin Perez (7-4) seeking his seventh straight victory when he faces RHP Ervin Santana (2-7) on Friday.

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