The Yankees took three of four earlier in the week from the Tigers, who threw the last three American League Cy Young Award winners on consecutive days.
But on Saturday the Yankees had no success against the Indians' Corey Kluber, who is putting himself in the discussion for this season's award.
The 28-year-old righthander dominated the Yankees in his six innings in Cleveland's 3-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 47,376 at the Stadium.
In his last four starts, Kluber has allowed one earned run in 311/3 innings, holding hitters to a .140 average (15-for-107), walking three and striking out 35. He is 7-2 with a 1.32 ERA and an 0.83 WHIP in his last 10 starts.
"I know there was a lot of talk about what we faced this week with Detroit,'' Joe Girardi said. "You look at the top five guys in the AL, he's right there.''
Derek Jeter, who moved past Honus Wagner into sole possession of sixth on the all-time hits list with No. 3,431, an infield single in the sixth off Kluber, put it another way: "He's nasty, man.''
Kluber (13-6, 2.46) allowed four hits, only two of which reached the outfield, walked one and struck out 10. The Yankees struck out 15 times overall.
"He throws a cutter, he throws a two-seamer, he throws a four-seamer, a slider, he mixes it up pretty good,'' Jeter said. "I don't think he threw too many pitches over the middle of the plate. He's got control, he didn't walk guys. He's a handful.''
Kluber's performance overshadowed yet another good outing by Brandon McCarthy, who allowed two runs and seven hits in 61/3 innings in taking his first loss as a Yankee. The runs came on Jose Ramirez's first major-league homer, a two-out, two-run shot into the first row in rightfield in the second.
"Just a cutter that backed up on me,'' McCarthy said. "Trying to go up and in and it just rides out a little bit over. Usually it still doesn't get hit like that, but it's a good job by him to get something done. Just a couple of mis-executed pitches.''
Michael Brantley hit his 17th homer, which went more than three-quarters of the way up the foul pole in right, off Chase Whitley in the eighth to make it 3-0.
The Yankees (61-55), who fell six games behind the AL East-leading Orioles, were shut out for the fourth time this season, but they did have their chances. They put two runners on base in the fourth, sixth and eighth but went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, stranding eight.
McCarthy, 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in five previous starts after joining the Yankees July 6, retired the first two Indians in the second before Lonnie Chisenhall singled to center. Ramirez, who came in hitting .174 with a .230 on-base percentage, then drove the first pitch he saw just over the rightfield wall. "I would definitely like it back,'' McCarthy said of the pitch.
Brantley lined a shot off McCarthy's right foot in the third and beat his throw for an infield hit. After Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue checked him out, McCarthy stayed in the game. X-rays came back negative. "Not too much,'' he said of the impact it had on his pitching. "It was numb for a little bit . . . but it wasn't too bad.''
Kluber did not allow a hit until Jacoby Ellsbury's one-out double in the fourth. Chase Headley drew a two-out walk but Kluber struck out Stephen Drew, who fell to 2-for-19 on the homestand, to end the 23-pitch inning.
The Yankees looked as if they'd get to Kluber in the sixth. Jeter led off with an infield single that allowed him to pass Wagner and Ellsbury blooped a single to left-center. But Kluber, his pitch count marching toward his final total of 109, struck out Carlos Beltran, Headley and Drew to end the inning.
Brett Gardner led off the eighth with a double and Ellsbury was hit by a pitch with one out, but Bryan Shaw struck out Beltran and Headley.
"You're going to run into guys that have great stuff," Girardi said of Kluber. "Sometimes you're going to get them and sometimes they're going to shut you down. Today happened to be a day where he just shut us down. His stuff was really good.''