The defeat was cemented when the Yankees could not take advantage of a gift — Athletics shortstop Chad Pinder throwing a grounder into the first-base dugout for a two-base error in the ninth inning. The left-hander Sean Doolittle struck out Chase Headley and retired Chris Carter on a pop-up to end the game.
“Very disappointing,” outfielder Brett Gardner said of the trip. “There’s no other way to describe it.”
Girardi was similarly succinct in his assessment of the trip, which began with a win in Anaheim last Monday. “Not very much fun,” he said.
The Yankees had Gary Sanchez (groin) back in the lineup and closer Aroldis Chapman, who was activated after spending a month on the disabled list with rotator cuff inflammation, back in the bullpen on Sunday.
But other than solo home runs by Matt Holliday and Didi Gregorius, the Yankees did little else against Oakland starter Jharel Cotton. His only other blemish in six and one-third innings was a run-scoring single by Aaron Judge in the second inning, which gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
But the Athletics broke through for four runs in the third against Luis Cessa, who was taking the injured C. C. Sabathia’s turn in the rotation. After Chad Pinder’s two-run double tied the score at 2-2, Khris Davis belted a two-run home run to deep center field on a belt-high fastball that Cessa was trying to place low and away.
The Yankees pulled to within 4-3 in the fourth when Gregorius, whose 17-game hitting streak ended Saturday, homered just inside the right-field foul pole to lead off the fourth.
The Athletics’ bullpen, whose 5.01 E.R.A. was the third worst in the majors entering Sunday, shut the Yankees out the last nine innings it pitched in this series.
“It’s not like we’re doing dumb things and we’re not in games,” Headley said, noting that the Yankees had lost four of the six games by a single run. “We’re right there. We just have to find a way to get one more than they got.”
If there was some good news for the Yankees, it was the return of Chapman, who pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and clocked 102 miles per hour on his final pitch. He said that it was difficult to watch his teammates struggle recently and that if they not been in a funk, he might have pitched again on a rehab assignment and rejoined them when they returned home to New York on Tuesday.
But Girardi dismissed the idea that the Yankees wanted Chapman here because they were struggling.
“If you’re a player that’s being paid and you’re eligible, you show up,” Girardi said. “This is something I’ve heard from a couple different people about — you’re going to fly him across the country for one day? How many divisions have been lost by one game? How many playoff spots have not been guaranteed because of one game?”
Gleyber Torres, the top Yankees prospect who injured his left elbow sliding home on Saturday for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will visit the team doctor Christopher Ahmad on Monday.
An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misstated the inning when Matt Holliday hit a home run. It was the second inning, not the first.
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