KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Andy Pettitte finally found his cutter, mysteriously missing his previous two starts.
Mariano Rivera's cutter, though shaky for two batters, still got the job done.
Latest Yankees stories
One night after the offense starred in a blowout victory, the two veteran pitchers helped lead in a 3-2 victory over the Royals in front of 30,910 at Kauffman Stadium .
The win assured the Yankees (22-13), who have won four straight, of a series victory. They'll try to sweep the Royals Sunday when Hiroki Kuroda takes on Ervin Santana.
Pettitte, who said "my cutter is non-existent right now" after a bad start against Oakland last Sunday, had a ragged beginning Saturday but found his rhythm as the night progressed.
"Whenever you do have a couple outings where you get knocked around, it's not a good feeling," Pettitte said. "You never want that doubt to creep in. Hopefully I can continue to get sharper and sharper."
Pettitte went seven innings, allowing two runs and five hits, retiring the final seven batters he faced.
"It's good to see [Pettitte] get back on track, Joe Girardi said. "I wouldn't have been in a panic if it didn't happen tonight because I know it would have come back."
David Robertson struck out the side in a dominant eighth.
Rivera, whose season ended on the warning track in left-center here last May 3 when he tore his right ACL shagging batting practice flies, retired the first two hitters he faced in the ninth before Salvador Perez sliced a double down the rightfield line.
The 43-year-old Rivera nearly saw Mike Moustakas tie it with a slicer to rightfield that sailed foul at the last moment, then got the third baseman to fly out to Vernon Wells in the gap in left-centerfield to go 14-for-14 in saves this season.
The Yankees were held to six hits Saturday night. The big blow was Wells' two-run homer in the fifth that gave the Yankees the lead for good at 3-2.
James Shields, the longtime Tampa Bay Ray starting against the Yankees for the 27th time in his career, allowed three runs -- two earned -- and six hits in eight innings in falling to 7-15 in his career against the Yankees.
Shields appeared as if he'd get out of the inning when Robinson Cano sent a sharp grounder to third but Moustakas threw wildly to first, allowing Nelson to score to make it 1-0.
Pettitte, who allowed consecutive one-out singles in the second before escaping, could not provide a shutdown inning, though the Royals hardly ripped the cover from the ball in tying it.
Elliot Johnson led off by chopping one into the dirt, the ball trickling about halfway up the third-base line for an infield single. Alcides Escobar's groundout to third moved Johnson to third and Lorenzo Cain's routine grounder to short brought Johnson in to make it 1-1.
The Royals went ahead in the fourth when Billy Butler led off by driving a 2-and-1 fastball to centerfield for his fourth homer of the season, making it 2-1.
Wells' two-run shot to leftfield in the fifth gave Pettitte the lead again, at 3-2. It was Wells' eighth homer of the season.