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Royals fail to sweep, fall 6-1 to Yankees

Maybe the weather wasn’t bad enough Thursday for the Royals. Just a brief shower. And this time, the umpires evened stopped the game until the storm passed.

It was, easily, the best weather for this three-game series against the New York Yankees. And it was the only one the Royals lost; they fell 6-1 and failed to complete a sweep at Kauffman Stadium.

The real problem, of course, is the Royals ran into an old nemesis and something resembling the old Yankees.

Veteran lefty Andy Pettitte improved to 12-3 in his career against the Royals, including 7-0 in his last nine starts. He worked 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one run and five hits before handing the game to Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera.

The Royals trailed 4-1 when they got the tying run to the plate in the eighth against Chamberlain, but José Guillen struck out with runners at first and third.

Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada put the game away by hitting successive two-out homers in the ninth against Hideo Nomo.

Rodriguez had an RBI earlier in the game and now has 1,510 for his career. That’s one more than Mickey Mantle amassed.

It was one of those nights, really. Even the glorious new Crown Vision scoreboard coughed up a few glitches. So the Royals, 6-3, settled for just winning the series.

Hey, it’s a step. They were 1-9 last season against the Yankees and just 17-59 over the previous decade.

Pettitte, 1-1, actually made his big-league debut nearly 13 years ago at Kauffman Stadium. That was April 29, 1995, when he allowed two runs and three hits in just two-thirds of an inning as a reliever.

Since then, he’s pretty much owned the Royals. His 3.06 ERA against them is his best mark against any American League opponent.

Royals starter John Bale began well enough, pitching two scoreless innings, before Melky Cabrera’s two-out homer in the third ignited New York’s slumbering attack.

The Yankees scored again in the fourth and added two more in the fifth for a 4-1 lead before Bale, 0-2, departed after the sixth.

Nomo replaced Bale to start the seventh for his first big-league appearance since July 15, 2005 for Tampa Bay at Toronto. It was his first relief outing since June 24, 2000 for Detroit at Cleveland, a span of 152 consecutive starts.

Nomo pitched out a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, when he walked two hitters, and worked a scoreless eighth before serving up those two homers in the ninth. Big news in Japan, no doubt.

The Royals scored first for the eighth straight game by nicking Pettitte for one run in the first. Mark Teahen lined a two-out single up the middle and came all the way around on Guillen’s double into the left-center gap.

Teahen had three of the Royals’ eight hits.

Cabrera’s homer pulled the Yankees even in the third and broke a streak of 18 scoreless innings dating to the second inning of Tuesday’s series opener.

The Royals’ defense, so solid through the first eight games, sprung some leaks in the New York fourth. Joey Gathright couldn’t hold Posada’s leadoff drive to center for what was scored a single.

Hideki Matsui followed with a single to right that Guillen stumbled while fielding, which allowed Posada to reach third without a throw. That extra base proved costly when Bale got José Molina to ground into a double play _ Posada scored on the play, and the Yankees led 2-1.

The rain hit at 8:23 p.m. after Alex Gordon’s one-out single in the fourth. The grounds crew just got the tarp down when a downpour hit, but play resumed just 22 minutes later.

Pettitte picked off Gordon when play resumed and quickly ended the inning by retiring Ross Gload on a grounder to second.

Bale wasn’t as sharp when he returned.

Morgan Ensberg led off the New York fifth with a single to center and went to second on Alberto Gonzalez’s sacrifice bunt. Johnny Damon’s single to deep short moved Ensberg to third before Cabrera pushed an RBI single into right for a 3-1 lead.

Bale should have been out of the inning when Rodriguez pulled a hard grounder to third, but the Royals settled for just one out when second baseman Esteban German dropped the ball after recording the force.

Damon scored from third, and the Yankees led 4-1.

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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