Carlos Febles doubled home the tying run off Mike Stanton and scored on Johnny Damon's fourth single of the night as the Kansas City Royals rallied in the ninth inning to beat the Yankees 3-2 Wednesday night.
Yankees manager Joe Torre said "nothing's wrong" with Rivera.
"We just wanted to give him the extra day off," Torre said. "He's been working hard."
Rivera, who has converted 32 of 37 save chances, has been less effective than usual lately. Left-handed hitters, who frequently watch their bats break on his inside pitches, have been able to bloop balls over the infield.
"It can't get a whole lot worse," Stanton said. "Joe shows confidence in putting me out in the ninth inning, and I can't come through. I failed. There's no excuse. It just can't keep going like this."
With the Yankees leading 2-1 and one out in the ninth, pinch-hitter Dave McCarty singled. Pinch-runner Luis Ordaz scored on Febles' double, and Damon followed with the game-winning single to center.
Damon said the Royals didn't take Torre's decision to send out Stanton as a lack of respect for them.
Rivera probably just needed the night off, and he deserves it," Damon said. "He's the best closer in baseball. They've got a comfortable enough lead over Boston. Stanton would be the 'A' guy on a lot of teams."
Brian Meadows (4-2) pitched his second complete game of the season for the Royals. He gave up nine hits, struck out three and walked one.
Chuck Knoblauch returned to the Yankees lineup and went 0-for-4 in his first game since going on the disabled list Aug. 3 with tendinitis in his right elbow. The second baseman was mistake-free recording two assists in a solid performance.
New York's Orlando Hernandez pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning, helping himself by starting two double plays. The blown save by Stanton denied El Duque his fifth straight win.
Joe Randa hit into both of the double plays started by Hernandez, who also had two other assists on ground balls back to the mound.
The first double play came in the fourth inning, and the second came in the eighth with runners on first and third and the Royals trailing 2-1.
Meadows retired nine of his first 10 batters. But Derek Jeter led off the Yankees fourth with a homer to left-center field, and Paul O'Neill bounced a ball off the top of the left-field bullpen gate for a 2-0 lead with one out in the sixth.
"I avoided the big inning,and I kept the team in the game," said Meadows, acquired from San Diego on July 31. "That's all I wanted to do."
Jermaine Dye went 2-for-4 and started Kansas City's rally with an RBI single in the eighth, cutting New York's lead to 2-1.
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