NEW YORK -- In his office afterwards, Rangers manager Ron Washington briefly stared down at his desk and massaged his temples with his fingers. He didn't look like a manager whose team has been in first place for 19 days, and was asked what his team needed most right now.
"We need a well-pitched job," Washington said. "That's what we need, whether it's a starter or somebody out of the bullpen. We need somebody to pitch a good game so our offense has a chance to breathe again."
On Wednesday, the Rangers got whacked for the second straight night as their pitchers allowed eight walks, five home runs and hit a batter in a 12-4 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Derek Holland took the loss while allowing six runs in five innings, but the bullpen was hit just as hard.
Holland allowed his six runs on seven hits, five walks and a hit batter, without striking out a batter. He allowed 13 of 26 men he faced to reach base.
Holland had a 2-0 lead in the first and a 4-3 lead after three innings, but couldn't take advantage of it. Instead he suffered his second loss of the season, and both have come at Yankee Stadium.
"I'm not happy at all," Holland said. "The team was scoring runs for me and I did a horrible job keeping down the damage. I'm very upset with the amount of walks. I pitched behind the whole game. The team kept scoring runs, and I kept screwing it up and not holding it down."
The loss was the Rangers' fourth straight and seventh in their last nine games. They have been outscored 38-10 during the four-game losing streak. They maintain a tenuous hold on first place in the American League West, but their starting pitching staff has a 7.51 ERA in the nine games since their consecutive shutouts over the Indians in Cleveland.
"We've got to pitch better," catcher Yorvit Torrealba said. "We're finding a way to score three or four runs, but the pitching has not been good lately. Pitching behind in the count has been the big issue. When we were playing well, we were pounding the strike zone."
Mark Teixeira led the Yankees' charge with a pair of two-run home runs. The Rangers have lost six of eight to the Yankees this season and four of five in the Bronx. The two teams play for the final time during the regular season on Thursday afternoon.
"We're not worried at all ... we just have to play better," designated hitter Michael Young said. "We've got a good team. We just got beat up the last few nights, but we'll come out tomorrow and play hard."
Holland left trailing, 6-4. Mark Lowe, normally used in the late innings, came in for the sixth and gave up three runs on home runs to Ramiro Pena and Teixeira. Neftali Feliz, who had not pitched on this road trip, was used in the eighth to get some work and allowed a three-run home run to Robinson Cano.
The Rangers revved up their running game to get two runs in the first inning. Ian Kinsler hit the first pitch of the game into left field for a single, and then stole second. Elvis Andrus drew a walk and Josh Hamilton grounded a single through the left side.
That scored Kinsler and left runners at the corners. Andrus scored when Young forced Hamilton at second with a slow grounder to shortstop and the Rangers had a 2-0 lead.
They didn't have it for long. The Yankees needed only 10 pitches to tie it up in the bottom of the inning. Holland got Nick Swisher on a popup, but hit Curtis Granderson with a pitch. Teixeira then jumped on a 2-1 fastball and crushed it over the left-field wall for a two-run homer.
"I had bad command of my fastball, and I didn't locate it well," Holland said. "I fell behind almost every hitter."
After the Yankees scratched out a run in the second, Kinsler tied it up with a leadoff home run in the third inning, his first since May 27, and the Rangers' first in five games. A one-out double by Hamilton, an infield single by Young, and Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead.
But Holland couldn't keep them ahead. He did retire the side in order in the third, but Eduardo Nunez, who is playing shortstop in Derek Jeter's absence, led off the fourth with a game-tying home run.
The Yankees took the lead for good in the fifth after Holland walked Alex Rodriguez with one out. He advanced to second on Cano's slow grounder to second, and scored on a single by Andruw Jones. A walk to Nunez and an RBI single by Francisco Cervelli made it 6-4.
"We go out, get two on the board and give it back," Washington said. "We take the lead and we give it back. All of a sudden they score six runs in three straight innings. If you can't keep these guys in the park it's going to be a long night."
It was for Holland, and it has been lately for the Rangers' pitching staff.
"Holland's got the stuff, he's got to execute pitches," Washington said. "If you don't execute against this team, that's what they are capable of doing."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.