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CLE@NYY: Jeter gets closer to 3,000, then leaves game

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter whipped his batting helmet down the steps that lead from the Yankees' dugout to the clubhouse, limping noticeably as he headed toward a MRI that would show a strained right calf.

Jeter was far from the only frustrated Yankee on Monday. A.J. Burnett hurled an unrewarded gem, outdueled by an impressive first look at Carlos Carrasco as the Indians defeated the Yankees, 1-0, at Yankee Stadium.

"I just feel it wasn't meant to be. That's how it goes," Burnett said. "Sometimes the other guy throws a little bit better than you do."

Not meant to be, as well, could be the picture-perfect snapshot that even Jeter himself was hoping for -- joining the 3,000-hit club while wearing pinstripes on this current homestand.

He laced hit No. 2,994 on Carrasco's second pitch of the game, a sharp single to left field, but appeared to suffer an injury while flying out to right field in the fifth inning.

Jeter winced as he jumped out of the batter's box and hobbled at half-speed to first base, accepting a pat on the rear from first-base coach Mick Kelleher before quickly disappearing down the dugout tunnel.

A MRI taken at New York-Presbyterian Hospital showed a Grade 1 strain, the lowest level, but manager Joe Girardi already has warned that the injury should cost Jeter at least Tuesday's game.

"He just walked off the field and you could tell he was done," Girardi said.

Jeter lunged for first base while running out a fielder's choice to third base in the second inning and came down hard on the bag, but there was no indication that it contributed to the injury.

Pleased to be pitching on regular rest, Burnett followed his worst start of the season with "arguably his best start of the year," in Girardi's eyes.

Having been battered by the Red Sox for eight runs (seven earned) last time out, Burnett only had one blemish to stomach under comfortable conditions on Monday, but it was still not enough.

"A.J. pitched so well tonight," Mark Teixeira said. "That was as dirty as I'd seen him in a while. Some of the swing-and-misses, hitting his spots with his fastball, he was really good tonight. You'd love to scratch a couple of runs across for him to get the win."

Allowing only five hits in all, the Indians punched through against Burnett in the fourth inning, as Michael Brantley ripped a triple to right field that ticked off the glove of a diving Nick Swisher.

Asdrubal Cabrera's single through the infield brought home the game's only run, and Swisher lamented how close he'd come to preventing it at all.

"I tipped it," Swisher said. "Man, that play right there was the reason that we lost. You play all these outs, and then you get a bouncing ball through the left side that scored the only run."

Burnett slammed the door from there, around a couple of wild pitches, striking out eight, but the Yankees were unable to strike against Carrasco, despite several solid opportunities.

"I had decent control and found my hook when I needed to," Burnett said. "I think my changeup was great to lefties. It's one of those nights you've got to tip your hat. The other guy pitched a great game."

A glaring chance against Carrasco came in the first inning, with Jeter at third and the bases loaded for Alex Rodriguez, needing one grand slam to tie Lou Gehrig's 23 for the all-time lead.

Instead, Rodriguez lifted a medium-depth fly ball to center field, and Jeter stutter-stepped off the bag before returning on a play that saw Brantley double-clutch on his throw to the infield.

"It wasn't a long fly ball," Girardi said. "It's nobody out; sometimes you're a little bit hesitant there. When [Brantley] dropped his head, when he put his arm down, that might have been when he could have scored. But it didn't happen."

Carrasco took advantage, striking out Robinson Cano swinging and retiring Swisher on a groundout.

That set the tone for a night when Carrasco would be able to quell the Yankees' rallies, shining brightly in his first career start against the club.

"We missed a few chances, but we didn't get a lot of guys on base," Brett Gardner said. "We threw the ball well, and Carrasco really did a good job getting ahead and keeping guys off base. Offensively, we just didn't get anything going tonight."

Carrasco scattered five hits and walked three in his seven innings, striking out seven, and a trio of Cleveland relievers held New York at bay -- including closer Chris Perez, who hurled a perfect ninth with a strikeout for his 16th save.

"I can't say enough about the job [Carrasco] did," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "It's very tough against this lineup, in this ballpark, to keep them down like that."

Swisher said the loss was easier to swallow because the Yankees had won the first three in the weekend wraparound series, noting that "three out of four, that's not too shabby."

But the mood was tempered by Jeter's absence. His inclusion in the 3,000-hit club is an eventual certainty, but few had wanted to forecast that it might come on the road.

Now, it may even come later, if a disabled list stint is necessary. The Yankees said they'd have more information on Tuesday, and until then, they'll be holding out hope for the captain.

"With Jeet, you never know," Burnett said. "He might be in there tomorrow. We have to just keep our fingers crossed."

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