- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - The New York Yankees had trouble with Lance McCullers’ curveball on Wednesday night and it led to a 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros.

McCullers struck out 10 in six solid innings and Colby Rasmus broke out of a slump with a two-run homer to lead the Astros.

McCullers (6-4) allowed five hits and one run and tied a season high by fanning 10 for the second straight game.

He kept the Yankees off-balance by throwing almost as many curveballs as fastballs, but to Brian McCann it seemed like more than that.

“He’s got one of the better curveballs you’re going to see and out of 90 pitches it seemed like he threw 89 of them,” McCann said. “He has a great arm and a really good curveball.”



McCann cut the lead to 4-1 when he led off the fourth inning with a home run to center field.

Didi Gregorius singled with one out before McCullers walked Starlin Castro. But McCullers ended the threat by striking out the next two batters to end the inning.

McCullers then struck out the side in the fifth to make it five in a row.

McCann’s homer was the highlight of the night for the Yankees, who managed just four other hits, which were all singles, and struck out a season-high 15 times.

“You want to try and hit his fastball because you know it’s going to be tough to put a good swing on his curveball,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought our bats were pretty good often but his stuff was that good.”

Rasmus snapped an 0-for-29 skid when he sent an off-speed pitch from Masahiro Tanaka (7-3) into the seats behind the bullpen in right-center field to make it 4-0 with one out in the third.

Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson pitched a scoreless inning each before Will Harris got his 11th save by striking out two in the ninth.

Tanaka, who entered the game with a 1.50 ERA in nine road starts, allowed seven hits and four runs in five innings for the loss. He had thrown 12 1/3 straight scoreless innings on the road before an RBI single by Carlos Gomez with one out in the first inning.

“He had the one bad inning. He left the (splitter) up, he left a couple pitches up that inning,” manager Joe Girardi said. “They made him work. He had a real easy first inning and then after that they really made him work. The one inning really did him in.”

Tanaka said his problems came down to execution.

“Just the location of the balls,” he said. “I was just throwing it to a spot where they were able to get a good swing on it.”

Marwin Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games with a single to start the third. He advanced to second on a groundout and took third on a wild pitch. A single by Carlos Correa came next to score Gonzalez and push the lead to 2-0.

Rasmus then collected his first hit since July 5, when he also homered and drove in two runs, on his 12th homer this season.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Gomez left the game before the third inning with a strained right hamstring.

UP NEXT

Yankees: New York has a day off Thursday before opening a three-game series at Tampa Bay with Ivan Nova (7-5, 4.65) on the mound.

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