Andy Pettitte loses first as Yankees are blanked by Rays' Alex Cobb
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Andy Pettitte didn't hide his disgust.
But what he wouldn't elaborate on was just who he was irritated with, though the likely culprits, it stood to reason, could be narrowed down to himself and catcher Francisco Cervelli.
"Just a bad sequence," the lefthander said of Ben Zobrist's at-bat in the fifth inning that resulted in a two-run double.
The hit, coming on a 2-and-1 pitch, was the crucial one in the Yankees' 3-0 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
As big a factor, of course, was the pitching of Rays righthander Alex Cobb, who allowed three hits over 81/3 innings before giving way to Fernando Rodney, who pitched a shaky but scoreless ninth for his third save.
The Yankees (11-9), who lost two of three here -- scoring a combined one run in the losses -- finished 3-3 on the six-game road trip that started Friday in Toronto.
Pettitte was very good, shutting out the Rays until the fifth when a hit batsman and an ugly error by rightfielder Brennan Boesch led to two runs, one earned. Pettitte allowed three runs (two earned) and seven hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out 10, doubling his previous high total this season.
In the fifth, with runners on second and third and two outs, Pettitte fell behind Zobrist 2-and-0 before throwing a strike. Television cameras caught the pitcher mouthing "curveball" to Cervelli before Zobrist, on a curveball, doubled to right-center to make it 2-0.
"It wasn't a terrible pitch but obviously it was the wrong pitch at that time, I think," Pettitte said. "Just not a good sequence."
Cervelli was not in the clubhouse after the game to provide any further details.
Pettitte (3-1, 2.22) started the inning by hitting catcher Jose Molina. No. 9 hitter Kelly Johnson followed with a single to right, where Boesch let the ball roll under his glove, and that allowed the slow-footed Molina to take third and Johnson to advance to second.
"It's always frustrating," Boesch said. "Outfielders never want to make an error but it happens and you just try to make up for it. Maybe I just came up too quick. Ninety-nine out of 100 times you make it [the play]. It just happened to be today it didn't work out."
Pettitte struck out Desmond Jennings, who had singled against him in the third, then got Ryan Roberts looking at a 3-and-2 slider that caught the outside corner.
But Pettitte couldn't get out of the jam. Zobrist came through with the double to put the Rays (10-11) ahead. They have won 13 of their last 16 home games against the Yankees.
Sean Rodriguez's first homer of the season to lead off the sixth made it 3-0.
"I had a chance to get out of it and I didn't do it," Pettitte said of the fifth. "And that was really the game right there."
Cobb, in his first full season in the majors, entered with a 2-1 record and 2.53 ERA. He made the Yankees look fairly helpless as the Rays posted their AL-best fifth shutout this season.
"We have good pitching too," said Brett Gardner, who went 1-for-4. "We needed to give Andy a lead tonight and we couldn't do it."
Cobb let just one baserunner get into scoring position -- Travis Hafner reached second with two outs in the second -- and the hardest-hit ball came off the bat of Hafner in the seventh, a flyout to the track in right.
"He didn't make any mistakes," Joe Girardi said of Cobb, now 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA. "He used his three pitches. His changeup is an outstanding pitch. He moved his fastball in and out. He didn't leave anything in the middle of the plate tonight."
Pettitte didn't leave much there either, but Cobb was better.
"Their kid threw a great game and we weren't able to do much," Pettitte said. "Not a whole lot more than that on this one."