© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/24/07 10:24 PM ET

Yankees fall to aggressive Giants

Clemens makes second career relief appearance

SAN FRANCISCO -- Alex Rodriguez's Bay Area weekend opened with raves about appreciating the city's vibe, its stadium location and enjoyable climate.

Yet by late afternoon Sunday, Rodriguez's Yankees teammates couldn't wait to jet out of town, suffering a 7-2 defeat Sunday to drop the rubber game of the three-game series.

Rodriguez may have learned something new in his 72 hours near China Basin. The slugger loves hitting here -- his torrid 9-for-13 weekend proved that much -- but A-Rod suggested that the Yankees had trouble adapting to the faster, more exciting National League style of play.

"It's an attack-mode game," Rodriguez said. "Our league is basically stationary softball. We're not used to bunting and there's not much running that goes on, with the exception of a few teams. It's a different approach."

That plan carried the sub-.500 Giants past starter Mike Mussina and the Yankees on Sunday, as the right-hander was chased after just five innings in a 105-pitch effort.

From there, on a day when the park honored the two clubs that met in the 1962 World Series, the Giants took advantage of an old geographical trait from Candlestick Park, forcing outfielders to squint into San Francisco's high blue sky for disappearing fly balls.

Then, for good measure, they beat up on a Yankees bullpen that happened to include 44-year-old Roger Clemens, born the year Bobby Richardson snagged Willie McCovey's line drive to end that memorable Fall Classic.

The Yankees never led in the game as Mussina (3-5) suffered his second consecutive loss, walking three and striking out five, allowing five hits.

"It just wasn't really a fun day to be playing," Mussina said. "It was one of those days where you don't have the pitch to get someone out."

San Francisco touched Mussina for two runs in the second inning, as even lumbering Barry Bonds got into the act, singling, stealing a base -- his 263rd as a Giant, tying his father, Bobby Bonds, for ninth place on the club's all-time list -- and scoring on a sacrifice fly. Guillermo Rodriguez tacked on a run-scoring double.

The Giants surprised with more NL-style aggressiveness in the fourth. Saturday's hero, Nate Schierholtz, led off with a bloop single and stole second off Mussina, moving to third as catcher Wil Nieves' throw trickled through the play and into center field -- one of five steals by the Giants, who took advantage of Mussina's slow move.

Batting with one out, pitcher Noah Lowry squeezed and first baseman Miguel Cairo bounced the 20-foot throw to Nieves as Schierholtz slid into the catcher's left shin guard, toppling Nieves for the Giants' third run.

The Yankees loaded the bases against Lowry (7-6) in the sixth, as the left-hander walked Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter around a hit to Cairo, bringing up Rodriguez, who would wrap up his productive weekend batting at an obscene .692 clip with five runs scored, a homer and four RBIs.

But Rodriguez managed just a sharp ground ball for a run-scoring fielder's choice, and Hideki Matsui chopped to first base against reliever Jonathan Sanchez, ending the inning. Lowry allowed just two hits in a 5 2/3-inning effort, walking five and striking out two.

"It's tough to win games like that," said Jeter, who went 0-for-3 to snap his hitting streak at 17 games. "Our offense has been inconsistent."

With manager Joe Torre hoping to keep the game close enough for closer Mariano Rivera to make an appearance, the game featured just the second regular-season relief appearance of Clemens' career.

"It was probably the best option at the time in the situation with what it was," Torre said.

The 44-year-old Clemens last appeared in regular-season relief on July 18, 1984, at Oakland, a span of 22 years and 341 days. He struck out Ray Durham looking before issuing a five-pitch walk to Bonds, then gave up a single to Ryan Klesko before Schierholtz brought home a run with a sacrifice fly.

Clemens, who had been warming up as early as the fifth inning, said it was "obvious" why his 16-pitch effort was important.

"You watch the last couple of days. Any chance I can give the bullpen guys a chance to rest -- they've been taxed for us," Clemens said. "I was brought up to speed before I got here what went on the first month and a half. When you get in that situation, you want to throw the ball well and down in the zone so your manager can trust you in that situation."

In the inning before Clemens kicked the rubber, the Yankees were left unfulfilled on a scoring opportunity, as Johnny Damon pinch-hit for Kevin Thompson, singled, then stole second and advanced to third on an error.

Pinch-hitters Jorge Posada and Bobby Abreu couldn't get the run home against Randy Messenger, ending the inning, and the chance loomed large when San Francisco added three runs in the eighth off reliever Kyle Farnsworth with the help of two errors.

Omar Vizquel had a run-scoring single that Cabrera misplayed in center field, one batter after Jeter flubbed a ground ball. Cabrera's struggles weren't yet over; he also lost a ball in the sun near the wall as Durham coasted for a two-run double, completing the scoring.

The Yankees finished with a winning 10-8 record against NL clubs, but couldn't keep up under the Senior Circuit's style of play, going 2-7 in games against the Mets, Rockies and Giants without the benefit of the designated hitter.

Somewhat thankfully, then, the Yankees boarded a charter flight to wing it back to the East Coast. A date with Baltimore and, they wish, a return to the winning ways they enjoyed during their recent 11-1 run await.

"Hopefully what we did a few weeks ago," Mussina said, "wasn't a flash of brilliance that we're never going to see again."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.