Mark Teixeira tagged Kazmir for an early three-run homer and the Cleveland Indians never quite recovered Tuesday night in a 4-3 loss to the Yankees.
“It changed the game. He hung a change-up and that’s part of what the Yankees do. Otherwise, Kazmir held his stuff the entire game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Teixeira is now 10-for-20 with four doubles and eight walks lifetime against Kazmir.
Down 4-0, Drew Stubbs hit a three-run homer in the seventh off Joba Chamberlain. But Nick Swisher lined into a key double play in the eighth and the Indians dropped their third in a row and seventh straight on the road.
Kazmir (3-3) breezed through the first two innings, then gave up five straight hits to open the third. Teixeira capped the burst with his homer.
Lyle Overbay opened the Yankees’ third with a double and Chris Stewart singled, but was caught trying to advance. Ichiro Suzuki followed with an RBI single, Jayson Nix singled and Teixeira homered down the left-field line.
“I thought I really only made two bad pitches that I wish I had back: the slider to Ichiro that got a good part of the plate and he just made a good swing on and the change-up to Teixeira,” Kazmir said. “It’s a different ballgame without them.”
Teixeira also homered Monday night against the Indians, that one a grand slam.
David Phelps followed the worst start of his young career with his best, allowing a mere infield single in six shutout innings.
Phelps (4-3) neatly bounced back from his previous outing, when he gave up five runs while getting just one out against the New York Mets.
The 26-year-old righty struck out leadoff man Michael Bourn on three pitches and wound up fanning seven with four walks. The lone hit against him came when Stubbs beat out a slow roller to shortstop in the third.
Phelps, in his second major league season, walked the first two batters in the fifth. After a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Phelps retired the next three hitters.
David Robertson escaped a first-and-second, no-out jam in the eighth when Swisher lined to Nix at second base, and his flip doubled Jason Kipnis off second. The lineout against his former team left Swisher in an 0-for-13 rut.
“I was up there against my best buddy Robby and just had a little bad luck,” Swisher said. “I’m always up for the challenge of playing here and playing against the Yankees. The homer by Stubby rejuvenated us, but we missed opportunities tonight.”
“We aren’t playing our best right now and we have to take a look in the mirror and turn things around,” he said.
Mariano Rivera struck out two in the ninth for his 21st save. Mike Aviles flied out to end it, then made a beeline toward plate umpire Tony Randazzo to confront him and was ejected — Aviles, who disputed a called third strike earlier in the game, was upset that the first pitch in the final at-bat was ruled a foul instead of a ball.
“It was pretty clear that the ball didn’t hit the bat. I’m up there battling in a difficult spot and it was clear the ball never touched my bat. After the game, I said a few things and he was upset,” Aviles said.
“I’m from New York and love playing here. It’s a homecoming. I had family in the stands and for that to happen tonight was extremely frustrating,” he said.
Francona came out of the dugout to talk to Randazzo after the first pitch of the at-bat. He intervened in the postgame argument in the middle of the diamond.
“Aviles and Tony were going back and forth. I can’t let them go at each other,” Francona said. “You’ve got the best closer in the history of the game and he doesn’t need any help.”