NEW YORK — The New York Yankees extended a losing streak to nine for the first time in 41 years when Tommy Kahnle allowed a go-ahead homer to CJ Abrams with two outs in the eighth inning in a 2-1 loss to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.
Winless since beating the Marlins on Aug. 11 in Miami, the Yankees are on their first nine-game skid since Sept. 13-21, 1982 — the final month of a 79-win season when they employed three managers (Bob Lemon, Gene Michael and Clyde King). New York has been outscored 53-20 and has not held a lead since the second inning of its 11-3 loss in Atlanta on Aug. 14.
“Pretty down but we’ve got to fight through it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I think we’re doing and saying the right things but we’re in it to win it. At the end of the day, you work hard to put yourself in a position to shake hands at the end of the day. When you get beat over and over again and you’re in the middle of a tough season, it makes it hard.”
According to Elias Sports Bureau, New York’s last 10-game losing streak was May 21-June 6, 1913, when the team was in the first year of being known as the Yankees and shared the Polo Grounds with the Giants.
“Sometimes, you just have some tough luck out there,” Boone said. “But still, I thought we had some pitches and some chances to do some stuff with it tonight, and just couldn’t take advantage.”
Abrams snapped a 1-1 tie by hitting a first-pitch changeup from Kahnle (1-2) off the right field foul pole. It was the speedy shortstop’s 13th homer, sixth to give Washington the lead this year and third in the seventh or later.
“I’m not trying to hit home runs, but they just happen at the right time, I guess,” Abrams said.
Carter Kieboom homered in the third on the second pitch he saw in his season debut after returning from Tommy John surgery that cost him all of last season.
The Nationals won for the 13th time in 19 games and got their latest win after manager Dave Martinez agreed to a new two-year contract.
“That was a good win here in Yankee Stadium,” Martinez said. “You don’t often see a 2-1 victory here, but the boys played well.”
Ben Rortvedt homered and had both hits for the Yankees, who were held to two hits for the fifth time this year. New York also dropped to 12-27 since getting to 10 games over .500 on July 4 and was held to one run or fewer for the fourth time in six games.
“Every loss really stinks at this point,” Rortvedt said.
Carlos Rodon allowed one run and six hits over six innings in the best of his eight starts as a Yankee. Returning from missing two weeks because of a left hamstring strain, the left-hander also had help from his outfielders, who threw out three Nationals trying to stretch singles into doubles.
“They were aggressive, and defensively I think the boys picked me up there,” Rodon said.
Keibert Ruiz opened the fourth by oversliding second and was easily thrown out by right fielder Aaron Judge. Ildemaro Vargas made the last out of the inning when rookie left fielder Everson Pereira made a strong relay throw to shortstop Anthony Volpe, who fired to second baseman Gleyber Torres to complete the play.
It was New York’s first game with three outfield assists since Melky Cabrera had two and Hideki Matsui got one July 15, 2007, at Tampa Bay. It was the first time three different New York outfielders got assists since Dave Winfield, Mike Easler and Ron Kittle did it June 19, 1987, at Boston.
Pitching in front of several family and friends from nearby New Rochelle, Josiah Gray pitched six innings and survived issuing five walks.
Kyle Finnegan stranded a runner in the ninth for his 22nd save in 29 chances.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.