Andy Pettitte kicked himself every which way after last Wednesday's outing in St. Petersburg, Fla., a loss in which he pitched fairly well. So the lefthander, always his harshest critic, didn't hold back after Monday night's train wreck.
Pettitte, facing a team that brought a 7-18 record into the game, allowed 10 hits and was charged with seven runs in 41/3 innings in a 9-1 loss to the Astros in front of an announced crowd of 34,262 that included swaths of empty seats at the Stadium.
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"It makes me sick to my stomach,'' said Pettitte, who endured his shortest non-injury outing since Oct. 2, 2010, when he lasted four innings. "You want to give your team a chance to win, and I didn't do that.''
Pettitte, who entered the game 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA -- including the 3-0 loss to the Rays in which he allowed three runs in six innings -- saw his ERA balloon to 3.86.
The Astros had 17 hits, four by Carlos Corporan, who homered, doubled and drove in four runs, and three by Brandon Barnes, who doubled twice and had three RBIs. The Astros led 3-0 after the first inning, 5-0 after four and 9-0 after five.
"Just a poor job by me managing my way through that game,'' Pettitte said. "Just all-around, a sickening game for me and a very frustrating game.''
Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells each had two hits for the Yankees (15-10), who hit into four double plays. Astros righthander Lucas Harrell, who came in 2-2 with a 4.08 ERA -- part of a pitching staff featuring an AL-worst 5.51 ERA -- took a 9-0 lead into the sixth, when Wells finally put the Yankees on the board with a one-out RBI single.
"They got him the lead and he was able to continue to pound the sinker down in the zone and we kept hitting into the ground,'' Joe Girardi said of Harrell, who allowed one run and eight hits in 61/3 innings.
Pettitte retired the first two hitters he faced on a flyout and a strikeout before former Yankee Brandon Laird singled to center. And just like that, Pettitte said, his famed cutter "abandoned'' him.
Chris Carter dumped a broken-bat single to left and Carlos Peña singled sharply to right for the Astros' third straight single and a 1-0 lead. Peña came into the game 14-for-43 (.326) against Pettitte with six homers, 11 RBIs and 14 strikeouts.
Pettitte walked Ronny Cedeño on four pitches to load the bases, and Corporan hit a fastball the other way, slicing it into the rightfield corner for a two-run double and a 3-0 lead.
Barnes, a rookie who came in hitting a team-best .375 with a .474 on-base percentage, got in an 0-and-2 hole before pulling a drive into the corner in right for a two-run double that gave the Astros a 5-0 lead in the fourth.
Pettitte said not having his best pitch, the cutter, made the night difficult but added that he still should have done better.
"I feel like I have a curveball, changeup and my fastball,'' he said. "Just never got in a real good rhythm, never got in sync with my pitches in setting up the hitters with what I wanted to do, even when I don't have the cutter I'd like to have.''
Part of that had to do with throwing to an unfamiliar catcher, Austin Romine, who was called up to replace the injured Francisco Cervelli. "We'll get here tomorrow and talk about what happened,'' said Romine, 24. "We have to iron this out before next time. We've got to talk about it and figure it out.''
Pettitte, while saying "we didn't do a good job of getting it done out there,'' still placed the blame on himself.
Girardi, meanwhile, was philosophical. "He had a tough start. It happens,'' he said. "It happens to the great ones.''