Andy Pettitte struggles through five-plus innings

Andy Pettitte assumes a low profile after a

Andy Pettitte assumes a low profile after a pitch to Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau in the fifth inning. Pettitte went on to strike Morneau out, making him the Yankees' all-time strike out leader. (July 1, 2013) (Credit: AP)

MINNEAPOLIS - After absorbing his third straight defeat in his previous outing, Andy Pettitte stood by his locker in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse and didn't take the bullets.

He delivered them.

"Same old story for me right now every time I pitch," Pettitte said after allowing three earned runs in six innings in a loss to the Rangers. "It's frustrating . . . I'm just not putting up zeros for us."

The 41-year-old lefthander didn't put up enough of them Monday night against the Twins, either, although the Yankees rallied to take him off the hook.

Though he somehow survived a 42-pitch first inning to give the Yankees five innings -- and in the process struck out two to pass Whitey Ford and take over first place on the franchise's career strikeout list with 1,958 -- it was another night of frustration.

Pettitte, who came in 5-6 with a 4.22 ERA after allowing 12 earned runs in his previous three starts, allowed four runs and six hits. Chris Parmelee's leadoff homer in the sixth broke a 3-3 tie and was Pettitte's final batter of the night. But the Yankees scored three times in the eighth to go ahead 6-4, helped by two homers and a double by Robinson Cano to that point.

After Cano's homer off lefthander Scott Diamond in the first gave Pettitte a 1-0 lead before he took the mound, the lefthander couldn't hold it -- even for three hitters.

Pettitte instead went through the 42-pitch first-inning nightmare in which the Twins scored three times.

He started the inning by walking Clete Thomas on five pitches, then allowed Brian Dozier's double down the leftfield line that put runners at second and third.

Ryan Doumit followed by scorching a line-drive single to center to drive in both runners, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead.

Pettitte could not keep it there. Doumit moved to second on Justin Morneau's grounder to third and to third on Trevor Plouffe's flyout to right.

Oswaldo Arcia then sent a trickler to the first-base side of the mound. Pettitte stumbled as he picked up the ball and, from his backside, threw wildly to first. Doumit scored to make it 3-1 on what was ruled a hit and an error.

At that point, Joe Girardi had rookie righthander Preston Claiborne up and warming. But as it turned out, a reliever wouldn't be necessary for another four innings.

Cano, 7-for-13 with a homer against the Orioles during the weekend and 12-for-26 overall, drew the Yankees even in the third. Jayson Nix led off against Diamond and smoked a ball to third, where Jamey Carroll booted it. Cano jumped on Diamond's first pitch, an 87-mph fastball, and sent it over the wall in left for his third two-homer game of the year. He has a team-best 19 homers.

After the first, Pettitte settled in. He set down the Twins in order in a seven-pitch second, which included a strikeout of Thomas that matched Ford atop the franchise strikeout list. Pettitte passed him in the fifth with a strikeout of Morneau.

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