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Another quality playoff start by Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte pitches during the American League Division

Andy Pettitte pitches during the American League Division Series. (Oct. 8, 2012) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

BALTIMORE -- Andy Pettitte pitched well enough to earn his 20th postseason win Monday night, though it offered little consolation after the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Orioles in Game 2 of their Division Series.

On a night when his defense failed him and his offense mustered little support, Pettitte kept the Yankees within striking distance while pitching into the eighth inning. "You really can't ask for more than that,'' Russell Martin said.

But the 40-year-old Pettitte didn't come out of retirement earlier this season to take tough-luck losses in the postseason, when he has typically thrived. He allowed three runs in seven-plus innings and came away unsatisfied. "It was obviously a frustrating game and one you hate to lose,'' he said.

Derek Jeter let a ground ball sneak under his glove, then airmailed a routine throw to first base. Mark Teixeira suffered a Bill Buckner moment, letting a grounder trickle through his legs. Nevertheless, Pettitte endured in his first postseason start since Oct. 18, 2010.

It was vintage Pettitte, who departed after allowing a leadoff single in the eighth. He struck out five and walked one. "Outstanding,'' Jeter said. "I mean, Andy did what he always does, you know what I mean? He goes out there, he battles, he kept us in the game. I thought he pitched extremely well. We just didn't score enough runs for him.''

Little about Pettitte's return to the Yankees has gone smoothly. After announcing his comeback late in spring training, he didn't pitch until May 13. He eventually rounded into form, though after taking a comebacker off his left leg June 27, he didn't see a big- league mound again for nearly three months.

In his three September starts, Pettitte topped out at 94 pitches. His longest outing was a six-inning performance Sept. 24. Against the Orioles, he eclipsed both benchmarks, throwing 98 pitches in his seven-plus innings.

Pettitte quickly eased any concerns about sharpness. In his 43rd career postseason start, he retired the first eight batters he faced before running into trouble in the third. "I didn't feel I was very sharp after that,'' he said.

With two outs, he allowed back-to-back hits by Robert Andino and Nate McLouth before walking J.J. Hardy on four pitches. Chris Davis delivered a two-run single to put the Orioles ahead 2-1, driving a cutter that Pettitte later called a "serious mistake by me in that situation.''

In the sixth, Matt Wieters doubled and scored on Mark Reynolds' single for a 3-1 lead. But with Manny Machado -- a rookie half his age -- at the plate, Pettitte induced a tapper back to the mound and started a double play.

Ultimately, it wasn't enough for Pettitte to notch his 20th playoff victory.

"He pitched a really, really good game,'' Joe Girardi said. "I thought he had really good command of his fastball, his curveball, really all his pitches.''

New York Sports