Pettitte nearly perfect for Yankees

Costly mistakes in seventh inning

Andy Pettitte was perfect for the Yankees until the seventh inning. Andy Pettitte was perfect for the Yankees until the seventh inning. (Rob Carr/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / September 1, 2009

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After an error ruined Andy Pettitte’s bid for perfection, the lefthander’s effort to console his dejected teammate was absolutely flawless.

Pettitte retired his first 20 batters before a lamentable seventh-inning sequence spoiled both his perfect game and no-hit bid, and the New York Yankees beat the Orioles, 5-1, last night in Baltimore.

Pettitte (12-6) was poised to finish the seventh without allowing a baserunner, but former Oriole Jerry Hairston Jr. let a two-out grounder by Adam Jones slip through his legs for an error. Hairston was playing in place of Alex Rodriguez, who was given the night off.

Nick Markakis followed with an opposite-field single inside the third-base line, drawing further groans from a crowd of 25,063 filled with Yankees fans.

Hairston felt terrible, but Pettitte eased his pain by giving him a hug in the clubhouse.

“He was kind of funny,’’ Hairston said. “He was like, ‘You took the pressure off me.’ He goes, ‘If I haven’t thrown a no-hitter by now, then I’m not going to do it.’ He was probably the best. He said he didn’t want to throw nine innings anyway. That’s what type of attitude he has.’’

Major leaguers long ago found out what kind of pitcher Pettitte is, and his performance against the Orioles showed that he’s still got plenty of talent.

“After the fifth inning, I kind of started thinking about it a little bit. It was cool,’’ Pettitte said. “You can’t not with the fans; it seemed almost like we were at home, the fans were getting into it so much.

“It’s neat for me to be able to do something like that this late in my career. There’s not a whole lot that gets me excited, and I didn’t get too, too excited about it yet, because I had a whole lot of outs to get. But it was fun.’’

After Melvin Mora led off the eighth with a home run, Pettitte completed his masterful effort by getting three straight outs.

The 37-year-old Pettitte took his dominance of the Orioles to a new level with a vintage pitching gem that enabled him to move into sole possession of third place on the Yankees career wins list. He broke a tie with Lefty Gomez with his 190th victory with New York, a number bested by only Hall of Famers Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231).

Pettitte allowed one run and two hits, struck out eight and walked none to improve to 4-0 in his last seven starts. He’s 26-6 lifetime against the Orioles, including 16-4 in Baltimore.

Rays 11, Tigers 7 - Carlos Pena hit his AL-best 38th homer and drove in four runs to help visiting Tampa Bay beat Detroit for a split of their four-game series.

Tampa Bay scored six times in the first inning against the AL Central leaders, capped by Pena’s two-run drive. James Shields remained unbeaten against Detroit, and Jason Bartlett added a solo homer. Carlos Guillen had four hits for Detroit, including a pair of two-run homers.

Blue Jays 18, Rangers 10 - Adam Lind and Rod Barajas each homered twice, with Lind’s first career grand slam helping power Toronto to a big early lead before the Blue Jays held on to beat host Texas.

Lind had a career-high eight RBIs, matching the most in the majors this season when he hit a solo homer and a three-run double in Toronto’s seven-run ninth that finally put the game out of reach after Texas had rallied from an 11-run deficit to make it 11-10.

Twins 4, White Sox 1 - Home runs by Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel in the third inning lifted Nick Blackburn and Minnesota to yet another Metrodome victory over Chicago.

Blackburn (9-9) matched his career high with seven strikeouts in seven strong innings. Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 35th save.

Reds sweep Pirates, 4-3; 6-3 - Brandon Phillips had three hits off lefthander Paul Maholm (7-8), including a solo homer as host Cincinnati swept a double-header for the first time in 10 years.

In the first game, Darnell McDonald scored from third base on Jesse Chavez’s wild pitch with two outs in the ninth inning for the win.

Angels 10, Mariners 0 - Vladimir Guerrero hit two home runs and Juan Rivera added a three-run homer as Los Angeles shut out host Seattle.

Astros 5, Cubs 3 - Carlos Lee hit a two-run home run and drove in four runs for Houston in Chicago. Roy Oswalt pitched seven strong innings for Houston, which won for just the second time in eight games.

Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 3 - Rusty Ryal homered to lead off the 10th inning and Arizona beat host Los Angeles for the Diamondbacks’ fifth straight victory.

Braves 5, Marlins 2 - Omar Infante hit a two-run triple in the seventh and Kenshin Kawakami pitched six effective innings to carry visiting Atlanta.

Padres 3, Nationals 1 - Livan Hernandez lost to San Diego for the second time in less than a month - and with his second team - despite throwing a complete game for visiting Washington.

Athletics 8, Royals 5 - Ryan Sweeney had a two-run triple and scored the go-ahead run on Adam Kennedy’s bases loaded fielder’s choice grounder in the sixth to help host Oakland top Kansas City.

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