Pettitte strong as Yanks blow by Rangers
Early homers back lefty, who ties Gomez on Yanks' win list
NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte has operated all season in the shadows of the Yankees' rotation, and that's just the way he likes it. Working without fanfare, the modest lefty is plenty content to just get the job done.
New York's veteran stalwart quietly spun another gem on Wednesday, holding the Rangers in check over seven strong innings to help lead the Yankees to a 9-2 victory at Yankee Stadium.
"That's the way it's been my whole career, so that's the way I like it, really," Pettitte said. "I don't need a whole lot of attention. I just want to go out and help this team win. I just want to do my job and help us try to win another championship, and I'll be happy."
Jorge Posada slugged a three-run homer and Jerry Hairston Jr. added a solo shot as the Yankees won for the fifth time in seven games, evening their series with the Wild Card-contending Rangers while remaining six games ahead of the Red Sox in the division.
"Andy came down and shut down a pretty potent offense tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "These guys really swing the bats. His stuff was outstanding. The location of his fastball was really good, his cutter was really good again tonight. That's seven strong innings."
Limiting the Rangers to two runs over his seven frames, Pettitte remained undefeated in his past six starts and held Texas to five hits, walking three and striking out seven. Twenty-two of his 27 first pitches to Rangers hitters went for strikes.
"I didn't feel that great, but I was able to get ahead with some of my breaking ball stuff," Pettitte said. "The command of my fastball wasn't quite as good as I would have liked for it to be, but the cutter was real good again."
"I love the way he's throwing the ball," Girardi said. "A number of double plays tonight, and he got a ton of ground balls because he was down in the zone. He got a sinker in and a good cutter that really kept them off balance. He has been really big for us."
For Pettitte, the victory was historic in nature. It was his 189th as a Yankee, tying Lefty Gomez for third place on the club's all-time list and leaving him just Whitey Ford (231) and Red Ruffing (231) to topple.
Pettitte said that he was aware of the statistic, having seen it dart across the ESPN scroll while watching the Little League World Series on Wednesday at home.
YANKEES ALL-TIME WINS LEADERS
|1. Whitey Ford||1950, 1953-67||236|
|2. Red Ruffling||1930-42, 1945-46||231|
|3. Lefty Gomez||1930-43||189|
|3. Andy Pettitte||1995-2003, 2007-09||189|
|5. Ron Guidry||1975-88||170|
|6. Bob Shawkey||1915-27||168|
|7. Mel Stottlemyre||1964-74||164|
|8. Herb Pennock||1923-33||162|
|9. Waite Hoyt||1921-30||157|
|10. Allie Reynolds||1947-54||131|
"I feel very blessed to be able to stay healthy and play on a great team, and have great guys come in," Pettitte said. "Obviously, to have Mariano [Rivera] come in and close games out for me, I just feel very fortunate."
While Pettitte has been extremely pleased with the state of his left elbow after pitching through pain down the stretch last season, it is unlikely he will hang around long enough to make a serious run at the Chairman of the Board.
Pettitte laughed off a suggestion that he could pitch as long as the 46-year-old Jamie Moyer -- in fact, Pettitte has made no solid commitments, having considered retirement on some level in each of the past two offseasons. But thinking about 2010 is a possibility.
"I just feel like I control myself out there a lot more out on the mound, so I should be successful if I put the ball where I want to," Pettitte said.
"It doesn't mean I need velocity or anything like that. There are a lot of guys older than me playing the game. I'm only 37, you know? I'm not that old yet."
After inducing a big double-play grounder on former teammate Ivan Rodriguez to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first inning, Pettitte was supported by the long ball.
Posada slugged an 85-mph breaking ball off Holland in the second inning to drive in New York's first three runs, his 17th and second in as many games, before leaving in the seventh inning with a bruised left ring finger.
Utility man deluxe Hairston -- starting in left field to spell Johnny Damon, who has struggled against Holland -- made the manager look good with a solo home run in the fourth, his second since joining the Yankees.
"You just want to do something positive that day," Hairston said. "I think I've learned that, being in this type of role where you're playing third [base] or center field or left field. You just try to do something positive."
Pitching into the seventh inning, Holland left a two-on, none-out jam for Jason Jennings, and Derek Jeter provided valuable insurance with a two-run single.
Nick Swisher added a ringing RBI double to right and Mark Teixeira also drove in a pair of runs with a two-run single in the five-run frame as New York busted the game open against the Texas bullpen.
David Murphy drove in both of the Rangers' runs against Pettitte. Murphy knocked in Chris Davis with a one-out double in the fourth and cut the deficit to two runs in the seventh with his 12th homer of the season, a solo shot that landed in the Yankees bullpen.
"Andy pitched outstanding," Posada said. "He did a lot of good things. He had a very good sinker and changeup at times. He just gave up a bad cutter to Murphy and a curveball to Murphy again that he left up. But other than that, he was outstanding."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.