NEW YORK — One home run from tying Willie Mays for fourth place at 660, A-Rod was A-Worst.
Alex Rodriguez matched a big league career-high with four strikeouts, went 0 for 6 to set a personal mark for most hitless at-bats and grounded into a game-ending double play Wednesday in the New York Yankees' 3-2, 13-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I definitely chased today," he said. "Took some very ugly swings."
After homering twice at Tampa Bay on April 17, Rodriguez was batting .344 with four homers, 11 RBIs and a .781 slugging percentage in his return from a one-season drug suspension.
He is 5 for 37 (.135) since then, doubling and hitting home run No. 659 last Sunday night against the New York Mets. His average is down to .232 and he has driven in just the two runs in two weeks.
"He just had a really good game on Sunday night. We forgot that one already?" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's just kind of what you go through as a hitter. There are going to be times you're extremely hot, and there's going to be times where you're not swinging it as well."
Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July, struck out twice swinging and took a called third strike against Drew Smyly, then fanned against Brandon Gomes with one out in the 11th and the potential winning run on first. It was just the fifth 4-K day of his big league career, the first since April 8, 2008, at Kansas City.
He had never had more than five at-bats on a day he was hitless, according to STATS, and this was his 2,588th big league game — the 1,313th with the Yankees for No. 13.
"You have to have a short memory, press delete, enjoy the day off tomorrow and be ready to go Friday," Rodriguez said.
Milestone home runs have been a struggle in recent years. He needed 38 plate appearances after No. 499 to hit his next in 2005, off Milwaukee's Jorge de la Rosa. Rodriguez was stuck at 599 until his 52nd plate appearances in 2010, against Toronto's Shaun Marcum.
A-Rod and the Yankees will take a chartered train to Boston on Thursday for the start of a six-game trip.
"It would have been nice to do it here at home," he said.
The teams combined for a whiff-fest, with Tampa Bay batters striking out 13 times and New York's fanning 16 times — one shy of the team record. The Rays may not be used to sunlight — it was their first outdoor day game this year
Kevin Kiermaier put the Rays ahead with a two-run triple in the fourth against Michael Pineda, but the Yankees tied the score 2-2 against Smyly on home runs by Chase Headley in the fifth and Chris Young in the sixth.
New York's bullpen, which has a 1.75 ERA, took over with one out in the sixth and didn't allow a hit until the last inning.
Left-hander Chasen Shreve (1-1), the Yankees' seventh pitcher, walked Steven Souza with one out in the 13th. Asdrubal Cabrera advanced the runner with a groundout, and Evan Longoria was intentionally walked to bring up left-handed-hitting James Loney.
Loney hit a grounder that second baseman Stephen Drew needed five steps to grab with a slide about 15 feet into right field. Drew looked at first, where he didn't have a play, and then threw home well behind the sliding Souza.
"He kind of stuck the bat out, and the ball was hooking," Drew said. "There was no shot to get him."
Gomes (1-1) pitched two innings, and Ernesto Frieri got three outs for his second save.
It was the second long game of the young season for the Yankees, who lost to Boston in 19 innings on April 10. Didi Gregorius made the final outs in the 10th and 12th innings, twice stranding a pair of runners.
"It's frustrating," Girardi said, "because we had some opportunities late in the game and weren't able to get the one hit that we needed."
The 1:07 p.m. start drew 30,055, the Yankees' lowest for a home game since Sept. 23, 2004, when the crowd for a game against the Rays was 29,501.
Yankees reliever Dellin Betances limped as he walked to the dugout in the eighth. He said he had a blister on his left big toe and that it wasn't an issue.
Yankees: Because Tanaka went on the disabled list, New York was able to recall infielder Gregorio Petit from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre just a day after Petit was optioned. Petit said he got word Tuesday before he would have traveled to join the RailRiders, and he started at second base against the Rays.
Yankees: New York opens a three-game series at Boston with LHP CC Sabathia (0-4) on the mound. New York is scheduled to play 17 games in 17 days.
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