"After it goes by, you go, 'What just happened?'" Teixeira said. "I didn't even get leather on it. I just missed it. I don't know what happened. The ball obviously didn't do what I expected it to do."
The trouble started in the seventh, when Boone Logan walked pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez, who then took second on a wild pitch. Logan induced a Jose Lobaton flyout for the second out of the inning and gave way to David Robertson.
Even with a runner on second, Robertson seemed like a lock to get out of the inning unscathed. The Yankees setup man stranded almost 90 percent of baserunners in 2011. But the Rays countered with pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad, who doubled off the right-field wall to tie the game at 3.
That created an opportunity for Johnson, who lashed a ground ball well within the reach of Teixeira. But it slipped by the four-time Gold Glove Award winner, allowing Conrad to trot home and give the Rays the lead.
"I feel like I flat-out blew the game today; I feel like that one's not on Tex," said Robertson, who has blown a save and taken the loss in two of his last three appearances. "He's made amazing plays behind us all year long. ... It's going to happen. I still should've been able to get Conrad out. That one falls on me today.
"I'm very frustrated. I used to be really good in those situations. I'm not saying that I can't be again, but lately, the last couple outings, I haven't been doing well with them. It's time for me to turn it around and be able to get those big outs. Right there, the team needed a big out, and I wasn't able to get it."
It was just as unusual to see the Rays on the receiving end of a defensive gaffe, as they entered the night second in the Majors with 66 errors while the Yankees' 36 had them tied for the second fewest. That was particularly true for Johnson, who's second on the Rays with eight errors.
"Obviously, the man's won some Gold Gloves," Johnson said. "Him not making it shows that it was a pretty challenging play. You expect him to make it, and I thought it was going to hit the base and kick, but it worked out better that way."
The loss was even more disappointing for the Yankees given the solid start they received from Freddy Garcia, who now has a 1.99 ERA in 11 outings (10 of them in relief) since May 1. Filling out New York's banged-up rotation, the veteran right-hander allowed only two runs, both on solo homers, and struck out four in 5 1/3 innings. B.J. Upton cut New York's lead to 2-1 in the fourth, and Carlos Pena tied the game at 2 by hammering a slider into the right-field stands two innings later.
That was the last batter Garcia faced. He entered the game on a 75-pitch limit, and Pena's homer came on the righty's 74th offering. Yankees manager Joe Girardi considered relieving Garcia after the righty had thrown 69 pitches through five innings, but the manager liked the way Garcia was pitching and sent him back out on a batter-by-batter basis.
The Yankees took Garcia off the hook in the seventh, when Chris Stewart drew a leadoff walk and took second on a wild pitch. Stewart moved to third on Derek Jeter's flyout and scored on Curtis Granderson's sac fly.
"We had the lead a couple times, and we weren't able to hold it," Girardi said. "That makes it a little bit more difficult. Freddy did a tremendous job, and unfortunately, we weren't able to get more than three runs tonight."
New York jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Rays lefty Matt Moore, who struck out 11 Yankees when he first faced them last September, but the rookie calmed down and worked seven strong innings. Moore struck out only three and walked just as many, but he limited the damage after the first with the help of some timely double-play defense.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, their one defensive miscue came at just about the worst possible time from maybe the most unlikely player, and they dropped their eighth straight game at Tropicana Field.
"We should still be playing; that's the tough thing," Teixeira said. "We battled all night, and we should still be playing right now if I make that play."