TORONTO - It was starting to get to Andy Pettitte.
"We're not winning when I pitch right now and that's frustrating to be sure," the lefty said after last Thursday's 1-run loss to the White Sox, a game in which Pettitte gave up just one earned run in 61/3 innings.
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But that was how things had gone of late for Pettitte, who entered last night's game in Toronto 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts since the All-Star break and hadn't won a game since July 1.
But instead, Pettitte, though hit hard at times, churned out another superb start and outpitched the Blue Jays ace in a 5-3 Yankees victory last night at the Rogers Center. "You just know when Doc's [Halladay] out there, it's going to be a battle and I'm not going to be able to give up a whole lot or it's going to be a loss," Pettitte said. "He's the best pitcher in the league."
But he wasn't the best pitcher in the ballpark last night.
Pettitte (9-6) went 62/3 innings, allowing one run and four hits. He left the game with a 2-1 lead and watched from the dugout as Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth - and Hideki Matsui a solo shot in the ninth - to give the bullpen some breathing room, which it wound up needing.
Halladay (11-5), making his first start since Friday's trade deadline, went nine innings, giving up five runs - four earned - and 10 hits, matching a season-worst. The three home runs allowed matched his season-worst, established in a 6-5 loss to the Yankees July 4 at the Stadium.
"Wins are good," Pettitte said, sounding almost relieved. "It was definitely nice. I was telling the guys I needed one."
Phil Hughes, who replaced Pettitte with two outs in the seventh, got out of that inning, but gave up consecutive singles to start the bottom of the eighth. After striking out two batters, manager Joe Girardi called on Mariano Rivera, who gave up a two-run double to Vernon Wells, pulling the Blue Jays to 4-3.
Matsui's 16th homer, to dead center, made it 5-3 and Rivera, though shaky in giving up two singles and a long flyout to the track to Jose Bautista, earned his 31st save.
Rivera was angry with himself for making things as interesting as he did. "I go out there and give up those runs, that's not good," Rivera said. "I'm supposed to go out there and pick him [Hughes] up. Not allow runners to score."
Damon did significant damage to Halladay, no surprise in that he came in as one of the few major leaguers with prolonged success against Halladay. He came in 30-for-86 (.349) in his career - the highest average of anyone in the majors with a minimum of 50 plate appearances - and Damon promptly went the other way in the first, slapping a single to left and scoring later in the inning on Alex Rodriguez's double. "I've just been lucky," Damon said. "Just one of those weird baseball things."
As was the Yankees second run when Rodriguez scored after Matsui hit a bouncing ball that first baseman Kevin Millar threw high to Halladay covering first. When Halladay dropped the throw, Rodriguez steamed around third and though Halladay's throw home beat Rodriguez, catcher Rod Barajas failed to hold onto the ball as he applied the tag. "It was a very soft slide," Rodriguez said. "The ball was so exposed I nipped it a little bit and it just popped out. Just luck."
Toronto had its share of hard-hit balls.
Derek Jeter snared a Barajas line drive to start the third inning and, after Bautista walked in the same inning, Rodriguez caught Marco Scutaro's line smash and doubled Bautista off first. "He [Jeter] was telling me I almost got his shoulder dislocated by one of the line drives to him," Pettitte said.
Pettitte walked two and allowed a single in the fourth but the Blue Jays were only able to score one. "He's been so tough on us," Joe Girardi said of Halladay, who came in 16-5 against the Yankees in his career. "We knew Andy was going to have a big game for us and Andy went out and did it."