Joe Girardi sounded a little more concerned talking about Nick Johnson's back after the game than he did before it.

"I think he didn’t completely tell us how sore he was,” Girardi said. “I think he’s a little bit sore."

Girardi said Johnson was not likely to play Sunday -- though he left the door open -- and expects him back on Tuesday. Girardi doesn't think any kind of trip to a specialist is necessary. Not yet anyway.

"I don't think we will," Girardi said. "If he's still really bothered Tuesday then maybe you do something." 

Johnson, who took extra batting practice several hours before Friday’s loss, said he “felt a little something” during regular BP.

Johnson played Friday, going 1-for-4, but told Girardi of the stiffness yesterday morning. He said he felt OK to play but Girardi shut him down.

“Just trying to be smart about it,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who has surpassed 100 games four times in eight big league seasons, said this stiffness is in a different area – “all the way down, near the rear” – than the tweak that occurred before the second spring training game when he took batting practice in cleats rather than turf shoes and missed four days.

After an afternoon of treatment yesterday Johnson said, “It’s feeling a lot better right now."

*** Andy Pettitte was outstanding a fourth straight start, allowing one run and six hits in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 1.29, the lowest he's ever had at this point of a season. 

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"I just feel like my location's been really good, I feel like my work with my catcher's been good and I'm really mixing my pitches up good," Pettitte said. "I'm moving the ball in and out and command's been pretty good. Anytime you can do that and change speeds I feel like you're going to be successful."

Pettitte, today, was most pleased in that he struck out eight and walked none.

“That’s huge for me,” Pettitte said of. “Even though I’ve been feeling good with my command I feel like I’ve been walking a few too many. For me, because I usually give up hits, three walks in a game is too many. Today that was nice to keep that down.”

*** The Yankees (12-5) — only the third defending champion to win their first five series of the subsequent season and the first in 88 years — can win their sixth straight series as Javier Vazquez (1-2, 8.27) takes on Scott Kazmir (1-1, 7.45) tomorrow.