Derek Jeter smiled throughout the ceremony in his honor, but shortly after taking the microphone, he seemed ready to turn the attention to where he typically wants it.

"We've got a game to play," Jeter said to conclude his brief remarks to an adoring Stadium crowd Sunday on Derek Jeter Day.

The sellout gathering of 48,110 was in no hurry for the tribute to end. Perhaps the fans wanted to continue soaking in the championship memories brought forth by the past greats and near-greats on the field, a distinguished gathering that included Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams and Joe Torre.

Then the current Yankees, who have wallowed in mediocrity much of the season, provided a splash of cold water on the sunny afternoon.

They were shut out for the second time in three days, falling to the Royals, 2-0, and doing further damage to their long-shot playoff hopes. They are 41/2 games behind Seattle in the race for the second wild card.

"We're still in a position where if we win our games, then we'll be all right," said Jeter, who had one of the Yankees' four hits, an infield single in the first, and one of their four walks.

He did not sound all that hopeful, though. Neither did Joe Girardi, whose team fell to 73-68 and is 3-3 on this nine-game homestand that many had characterized as make-or-break.

It's breaking, in large part because of -- no surprise here -- the club's offense.

The Yankees went 0-for-16 with runners on base Sunday against righthander Yordano Ventura (12-9, 3.25), who allowed three singles in six innings, and three relievers. The Yankees allowed only two earned runs and outscored the Royals 6-5 in the series but still dropped two of the three games.

Chase Headley's error proved costly in their 1-0 loss to James Shields on Friday night, and errors by Shane Greene and Carlos Beltran gave the Royals two unearned runs Sunday.

"We lose 1-0 and 2-0 and not one of those runs was earned," Girardi said. "We needed to win, that's the bottom line, and that's the frustrating part."

But he also said, "I'll never give up on them. That's not my personality. They just have to continue to grind it out, try to get better every day. We have our last off day [today] and then we have to win a whole lot."

Rookie righthander Greene (4-3, 3.57) wasn't sharp for a second straight outing, but he limited the damage, allowing five hits, three walks and the two unearned runs in five innings.

After Greene allowed a dribbled infield single by Josh Willingham and a soft single by Mike Moustakas to begin the second, he struck out Alcides Escobar and got Jarrod Dyson to fly to center. But he threw away Nori Aoki's dribbler, allowing Willingham to score. He probably would have been better off holding on to the ball.

"I thought I had a play, looked up and it was already too late when I figured out I didn't have a play," said Greene, who got Omar Infante to fly out to end the inning. "I tried to shut it down and it was too late."

Beltran dropped Alex Gordon's routine fly ball to right to begin the third, and Gordon stole second with one out and scored on Eric Hosmer's single.

With standout Royals closer Greg Holland out with triceps tightness, Wade Davis pitched a scoreless ninth to record his second save in the series. He allowed a leadoff single to Beltran but struck out Brian McCann, got Mark Teixeira to ground to third and struck out Stephen Drew to end it.

"It's obviously not the easiest path that we've built for ourselves," said Headley, who hatched the idea of the position players holding back and letting Jeter take the field on his own before the first pitch. "But we're going to keep fighting . . . You wish it was a different circumstance, but it's not. We're going to have to play extremely well from here on out."