Andy Pettitte didn't find much good in his previous outing, other than the fact the Yankees won. The lefty allowed seven runs in seven innings Friday in Boston, and his victory that night was the result of his offense's 20-run explosion.
Pettitte received plenty of support again last night, but he turned in a pitching performance to match in a 9-2 victory over the Rangers at the Stadium. Pettitte (11-6) went seven innings, allowing five hits and two runs, and the Yankees (79-47) stayed six games ahead of the Red Sox. Texas fell 21/2 behind Boston in the wild-card race.
Pettitte earned his 189th win as a Yankee, tying Lefty Gomez for third, behind Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231). Pettitte said he became aware of it while watching the Little League World Series yesterday.
"You see it scroll across the bottom of the screen down there so it's cool, it's awesome,'' he said. "Tying Lefty Gomez, one of the all-time great Yankees, I'm thankful. I feel very blessed."
But the more significant story might have come with one out in the eighth, when Jorge Posada left the game with an injury to his left ring finger after taking a foul tip off the bat of Nelson Cruz. Joe Girardi said X-rays were negative. Posada, categorized as "day to day" by Girardi, had the same finger dinged on a foul tip a couple of weeks ago.
"It's been beat up and it just took another hit today to the same spot," Posada said. "I don't think it's going to heal until the season's over."
Posada struck the first big blow off Derek Holland, who came in 7-7 with a 4.72 ERA but of late had the look of a rising star. Holland, 22, was 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA in his last five starts.
In the first, Holland needed only 13 pitches to set down the Yankees in order. But after Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui singled to start the second, Posada hammered a 1-and-1 pitch deep to left-center for his 17th home run and a 3-0 lead.
The Yankees nearly added a run in the third as Rodriguez worked a two-out walk, then stole second. Matsui, who was 12-for-36 in his last eight games, hit a slow grounder up the middle that trickled into center. Coach Rob Thomson waved Rodriguez around third as shortstop Elvis Andrus made a sliding stop of the ball, his momentum carrying him toward centerfield. Andrus, however, quickly jumped up, righted himself and threw a one-hopper to catcher Taylor Teagarden, who easily tagged out Rodriguez.
The Yankees scored an inning later as Jerry Hairston Jr. slammed his second homer as a Yankee, and 10th overall, for a 4-0 lead.
Josh Hamilton led off the sixth with a single but was erased when Cruz grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, the Rangers' third of the night. They hit into four.
Pettitte got the first two Rangers in the seventh but left a 1-and-1 pitch over the plate to Murphy, who sent it into the Yankees' bullpen in right-center to make it 4-2. The home run broke Pettitte's streak of 49 2/3 innings without allowing one.
Robinson Cano started the seventh with a double and after Hairston walked, Ron Washington called on Jason Jennings to face Melky Cabrera. Cabrera put down a bunt to the third base side that Jennings booted to load the bases. Derek Jeter lined a single to left to score Cano and Hairston, and it was 6-2. Nick Swisher lined a run-scoring double to make it 7-2, and Mark Teixeira's two-run single off the wall in right ballooned the lead to 9-2.