NEW YORK -- Brian Gordon. Hector Noesi. David Robertson. Corey Wade.
Those were four of the five Yankees pitchers who shut down the Rangers' offense for 12 innings on Thursday afternoon. The game itself was terrific right to the end, but it was the Rangers' offensive failures that ultimately led to more frustration and a 3-2 loss to the Yankees in 12 innings at Yankee Stadium.
"That's what killed us today," Rangers manager Ron Washington said after his team lost for the fifth straight game. "We had opportunities today, and the right part of the lineup coming up. All we needed was that one big hit and we didn't get it."
No. they did not. The Rangers had nine hits in the game, but were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Four Yankees relievers combined to retire 17 of the last 18 Rangers hitters on the afternoon.
Mariano Rivera pitched two scoreless innings, but the Rangers couldn't score off Noesi or Wade, two relievers who would still be in the Minor Leagues if not for injuries to Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano.
The Rangers have also lost eight of their last 10 games and are down to a half-game lead in the American League West. They are tied with the Mariners in the loss column.
"Obviously, it's frustrating," outfielder David Murphy said. "It's frustrating to underachieve consistently. We know we're going to come out of it sooner or later, but when you're in the midst of a streak like this, you want to get it over with ... you want to get the bad taste out of your mouth."
This one was at least close until to the end when Brett Gardner grounded a single through the right side off of Rangers reliever Michael Kirkman to chase home Curtis Granderson with the winning run. The Rangers had been outscored 38-10 in their previous four games before extending the Yankees to 12 innings.
The Rangers are now 1-4 in extra-inning games this season, they are 2-7 in games that were tied after eight innings, and they are 4-13 in games that are decided in the final at-bat.
"Losing in extra innings always stinks," Rangers starter C.J. Wilson said. "You don't get a point like in hockey for an overtime loss. We're out there trying to win, but there is always some aspect of our game that seems to be missing. That's what's lacking right now. But it was good to at least play a close game."
Wilson allowed two runs in eight innings while throwing a career-high 129 pitches. He allowed seven hits, walked three and struck out 10. He had a 2-1 lead going into the sixth, but gave up a run-scoring double to Jorge Posada on what he said was his only bad mistake on the afternoon.
"Backdoor curve ... right down the middle," Wilson said. "I basically put it on a tee for him. Very disappointing."
"C.J. gave us everything he had," Washington said. "The opportunity was there to put some runs on the board and we couldn't get that hit."
Instead, they were frustrated by Gordon, a 32-year-old right-hander who was added to the Yankees earlier in the day in desperation after pitching in the Phillies' farm system until this week. Gordon, whose only previous big league experience was three appearances in late 2008 for the Rangers, held his former team to two runs over 5 1/3 innings. The Rangers, frustrated by his offspeed pitches, worked him for seven hits and three walks, but were 1-for-6 against him with runners in scoring position.
"As we got deeper into the game, we started to react to that slow stuff," Washington said. "But when you're sitting on an 80-something fastball and he throws 60, it's not that easy. When we got deeper in the game, we had him. We just couldn't put him away."
Both teams were wasting opportunities until the Yankees finally broke through in the 12th. Kirkman had pitched two scoreless innings, but the Yankees finally pushed the run across on two broken-bat singles and a controversial hit-by-pitch.
Granderson had the first broken-bat single, a blooper that fell in front of Murphy in right field. Mark Teixeira flied to left, and Kirkman then got ahead 0-2 on Robinson Cano. But he hit Cano in the hand with an inside fastball that the Rangers thought should have been called a foul ball.
"I heard it hit the bat," Kirkman said. "It might have hit his hand, but I definitely heard it hit the bat."Home-plate umpire Mike Everitt awarded Cano first base.
"He said it hit the bat and the hand," Washington said.
Gardner then pushed a grounder through the right side with his fractured bat, bringing home the winning run and handing the Rangers their experience being swept in a three-game series this season.
"Texas has a great team," Gardner said. "It seems like they've had our number the last few years. Last year, we played a lot of close games against them, really battled against them, and it seems like they always came out on top, especially in the playoffs. Any time you can win three out of three against a team like that, you feel good about yourself."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.