KANSAS CITY -- David Phelps was upset with himself and let everybody know it. The Yankees right-hander had a second chance to make it happen on Saturday and wound up quibbling about his own nibbling.
After the Yankees had just rallied for three runs in the sixth to tie the game, Phelps couldn't deliver that shutdown inning to keep the momentum going. He walked Billy Butler and Alex Gordon to open the Kansas City sixth and then Salvador Perez launched a three-run homer to boost the Royals to an 8-4 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
"Those are the two biggest at-bats of the game," Phelps said of the walks to Butler and Gordon. "We had just scored three runs. ... the worst kind of teammate right there. We have all the momentum right there and in nine pitches give it right back. I was trying to be too fine. I've got to trust my stuff and throw something over the plate. Just making the game a lot harder than it needs to be."
It was a rough night all the way around for Phelps, who surrendered a career-high 10 hits. He was charged with seven runs -- matching a career high -- over 5 2/3 innings.
"You always talk about shutdown innings," manager Joe Girardi said. "They are extremely important and tonight we weren't able to do it."
Five of the first six batters had hits off Phelps to start the second inning when the Royals scored three runs. The only out recorded during that stretch was on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Mike Moustakas when the Yankees were able to get the lead runner on a forceout. Royals starter Danny Duffy was powerful and sharp early, allowing just two hits over the opening five innings. But in the sixth, New York did some two-out damage.
Derek Jeter started a rally with a one-out single. He was still at first with two outs when Mark Teixeira put forth a patient at-bat and wound up drawing a walk. Carlos Beltran followed with an RBI double to left, snapping an 0-for-9 streak since coming off the disabled list. When Yangervis Solarte followed with a two-run single, the Yankees suddenly found themselves in a tie game.
Not for long.
Two walks and a Perez blast restored Kansas City's three-run lead in the blink of an eye.
"After we tied the game, the most important out is the first out of the inning," said catcher John Ryan Murphy. "We just nibbled a little too much and need to be a little more on the attack."
Murphy said he felt Perez had hit "a pitcher's pitch" for the three-run homer.
"To be able to put that swing on that pitch was pretty impressive," Murphy said.
Perez agreed that his homer came on a good pitch that he was able to go down and find it.
"It was a sinker down and in," Perez said. "It was a pretty good pitch, too. I was looking for something inside and they gave it to me."
Kansas City wound up getting another run in the sixth on Nori Aoki's RBI single. The Yankees' frustration in the inning was later symbolized when Jarrod Dyson went in as a pinch-runner and might have been out on a pickoff play if Girardi had been able to get a replay review. But the Yanks couldn't get a challenge because the next hitter was ruled to have been in the box before Girardi could make his case.
"I thought timeout had been called and he wasn't quite in the box," Girardi said. "But that's not an argument I'm going to win."
The Yankees could at least take some solace in the fact that Beltran got his first hit since coming off the DL on Thursday.
"It's nice to see him get a big hit there and set up that inning," Girardi said. "It's important because we need him to get going. He's a big part of our offense."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.