ST. LOUIS - David Phelps' approach was to treat Tuesday night like any other start, but he acknowledged that might be easier said than done.
After all, pitching in his hometown, against the team he grew up rooting for, for the first time in his career surely would feel different.
"There's a lot of emotions that go into it," Phelps said Monday. "But if you try to make too much of it, it's going to get the best of you."
The righthander, who put aside 26 tickets for an assortment of family, friends and even former schoolteachers, said emotionally he handled the night fine.
But the 27-year-old was not sharp, nor was the team's defense or offense, for that matter, in an ugly 6-0 loss to the Cardinals, who received a complete game from Lance Lynn in front of a sellout crowd of 45,202 at Busch Stadium.
Afterward, Phelps put the loss on himself and those committing killer errors in a four-run third, Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts, said they were the culpable ones.
"We as a defense certainly take the blame for that one," Roberts said.
Phelps (1-2, 3.38), who allowed five runs, three earned, eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings, wouldn't hear of it.
"It's probably just as frustrating for them when I go out and give up home runs and they're hitting the ball all over the park," Phelps said. "I'm never going to be frustrated with my defense. They pick me up more than they let me down."
As much as they've struggled scoring runs, it was just the second time this season the Yankees have been shut out (R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays did it April 5 in Toronto).
The Yankees had just two hits through the first five innings against Lynn (6-2, 3.12), who allowed five hits and three walks with two strikeouts in his complete game. The Yankees went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.
"I thought we squared some balls up, we had some chances to score a few runs, we just didn't do it," Joe Girardi said.
The critical inning was the third, when the Cardinals sent nine to the plate.
Matt Carpenter started the frame with a single and with one out, Matt Holliday singled and Matt Adams doubled to make it 1-0. After an intentional walk to Yadier Molina loaded the bases, Allen Craig grounded to Derek Jeter, whose throw pulled Johnson off first. Johnson swiped Craig before he hit the base, but could not hold the ball. The error, on Johnson, allowed Holliday to score to make it 2-0.
"I think that play can happen to anybody," said Johnson, filling in at first for aching Mark Teixeira.
Jhonny Peralta came next and hit a slow roller to Roberts that had a good chance of turning into an inning-ending double play. The ball instead skittered under the charging Roberts' glove, allowing Adams and Molina to score, making it 4-0.
"I probably looked up to see where the runner was," Roberts said. "Obviously, I looked up at the wrong time. Phelpsie was great. We didn't help him out much."
Phelps, who allowed Craig's solo homer in the fifth to make it 5-0, did not agree.
"I have to do a better job of getting out of the gate," said Phelps, who threw 28 pitches in the first but was fortunate to not allow a run. "Make pitches when you need to, that's how you win games, and I just wasn't able to do that to start off the third. That's where I got into trouble."