Pettitte stops O's as Yanks end slide
Bid for perfect game lost in fifth; A-Rod leaves with quad strain
BALTIMORE -- Thanks to another gut-check performance from left-hander Andy Pettitte on Sunday, the Yankees wrapped up a stretch of 20 games in 20 days with a victory that broke a season-high three-game losing streak.
But a major question mark follows the Yankees (10-10) to Chicago, where they will begin a three-game set with the White Sox on Tuesday night. Third baseman and cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez left the 7-1 victory over the Orioles in the sixth inning with a strained right quadriceps, and his status for the midweek series remains undecided.
"It's a little sore, a little tight," Rodriguez said. "Any time you have any type of feeling, you have some concern."
Asked whether the injury, similar to one he sustained in high school, was serious enough to prevent him from playing in Chicago, Rodriguez replied: "Maybe. We'll see how I wake up in the morning."
Manager Joe Girardi didn't sound as concerned as A-Rod, but neither would divulge where Rodriguez was heading for treatment. Rodriguez had planned to depart on Sunday night for his Miami home, where his wife, Cynthia, is due to give birth to the couple's second child by the end of the week. Now, that itinerary has changed.
Girardi would only say that Rodriguez will receive treatment, as opposed to an MRI or some other diagnostic examination, and Rodriguez wouldn't say whether he would accompany the Yankees to Chicago or return to New York, where he could be treated by team physicians.
"Get some sleep, get some rest, wake up and see how it feels," Rodriguez said, adding that the injury was similar to though perhaps not as severe as the strained left quad that shelved shortstop Derek Jeter for six days almost two weeks ago. "I'll treat it all day [Monday] -- ice, and I have a heat pad. Sleep on that, then ice it and do treatment all day [Monday] and let it roll."
The injury occurred when Rodriguez reached first base in the sixth inning, after his fielder's-choice grounder erased Bobby Abreu, who had drawn a leadoff walk. Rodriguez flexed his leg while leading off first base and was removed after a consultation with Girardi and assistant athletic trainer Steve Donohue. Based on concern that Rodriguez could do more damage by trying to run hard from first to third or score on a double, the decision was made to remove him.
"We'll evaluate him on Tuesday," Girardi said. "We'll just have to wait and see. The fact that we took him out, we just didn't want him to hurt it any worse. Originally, he thought it was a cramp."
The uncertainty over Rodriguez overshadowed the seven shutout innings thrown by Pettitte (3-1), who improved to 23-6 against the Orioles and 14-4 at Camden Yards in his career. The left-hander had a perfect game through 4 2/3 innings until Jay Payton dribbled an infield single Rodriguez's way. Pettitte allowed four hits, walked none and struck out five to win his third straight start.
"Our starting staff hadn't thrown a lot of innings this turn around," said Pettitte. "You want to make sure that you do, but you want to do what I do, and hopefully that'll be seven innings, eight innings. I didn't want to over-stress how important this start was; I just wanted to be able to give us a good outing."
But the veteran used an effective four-seam fastball and bailed out an overworked bullpen that had logged 13 innings in the club's three previous losses. Even when he retired the first 14 hitters in order, Pettitte didn't allow himself to think of a potential no-hitter.
"I knew that I hadn't given up a hit," Pettitte said. "I really didn't think about it very much because I didn't think there was any way I could throw a no-hitter, because I don't think I can throw a no-hitter. ... I just assume somebody's going to get a hit off me. At that point, it was 2-0, and a jam shot and a home run and the game's tied. Mentally, I never did today get out of that approach."
After being outscored, 14-2, in two straight losses at Camden Yards, the Yankees' offense erupted for seven runs on 10 hits. New York took an early 2-0 lead in the fourth when Abreu drew a one-out walk, and Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui followed with consecutive run-scoring doubles.
Johnny Damon hit a two-run homer off reliever Chad Bradford in the seventh and Jeter, 12-for-31 since returning from his quad injury, added a three-run double in the ninth inning to break the game open.
"You hope [the offense] carries over," Girardi said. "This is an offense that we expect to score some runs. We didn't the last two days, and we did today. It was nice to see."
Joba Chamberlain followed Pettitte but faced only two batters -- allowing a double and a single -- before rain interrupted the game for 37 minutes and ended Chamberlain's day. Brian Bruney allowed one of Chamberlain's baserunners to score when Brian Roberts hit a sacrifice fly to right field, but that was all Baltimore managed. Rain delayed the game for another 37 minutes in the bottom of the ninth before Mariano Rivera finished off the Orioles.
Baltimore right-hander Steve Trachsel (1-3) was pulled after allowing Chad Moeller's one-out double in the seventh inning. Trachsel allowed three runs on seven hits, walked three and struck out five.
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.