New York Yankees starter Andy Pettitte says his pitches are finally cooperating during his three-start winning streak.
That's usually the case when he faces the Baltimore Orioles.
The veteran has won eight straight regular-season decisions against the Orioles and hasn't lost to them in the Bronx in over 14 years as he tries to help the Yankees complete a three-game sweep Sunday.
Pettitte (10-9, 4.05 ERA) has owned one of the highest opponent batting averages throughout this season, with a current mark of .288. He's limited hitters to a .221 average during this streak in which he has yielded four runs - one earned - over 19 2-3 innings after he was on course to finish with a losing record for the first time in his 18-year career.
"The biggest thing, like I said for several months, the pitches weren't doing what they're supposed to do," Pettitte said. "They're cooperating right now. Hopefully they'll cooperate the rest of the season."
Pettitte is 8-0 with a 2.99 ERA in his last 11 starts against the Orioles (71-63), not including a loss in Game 2 of last year's division series. He's 9-0 with a 2.44 ERA in his last 11 home starts against them since July 5, 1999.
The left-hander's 28 regular-season wins over the Orioles rank him second since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954. Fellow southpaw and former Yankees great Whitey Ford is first with 30.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter may want to bench J.J. Hardy, who is hitless in 13 at_bats and 2 for 23 overall including postseason against Pettitte.
Showalter will give Mike Morse his Orioles debut Sunday - the day rosters expand - after the slugger was acquired Friday from Seattle.
"We've got a lot of moving parts right now and hopefully Mike Morse will get a good night's sleep and be ready to start his career as an Oriole we hope," Showalter said.
New York (72-63) moved one-half game in front of Baltimore in the playoff race by winning 8-5 on Friday and 2-0 on Saturday.
Orioles nemesis Robinson Cano is 4 for 7 with four RBIs and three runs scored in the series, returning in strong fashion after missing a game when he was hit by a pitch Tuesday in Toronto. Cano is hitting .365 with three homers and 10 RBIs in a season series even at seven wins apiece.
It's unclear if Alex Rodriguez will be in New York's lineup after he was scratched Saturday because of flulike symptoms. Former Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds moved from first to third base and Lyle Overbay played first.
The Yankees are 25-18 against left-handed starters as they face the first of four straight in Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.76), who is hoping to bounce back in September after going 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA in five August outings.
Chen defeated Pettitte in that division series matchup last year by yielding two runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-2 home victory. He's 1-3 with a 5.10 ERA in five career regular-season outings against the Yankees, going 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA in two on the road.
Cano is 4 for 16 overall against Chen, Derek Jeter is 5 for 16 and Curtis Granderson is 2 for 11.
Major league home run leader Chris Davis is 5 for 14 with a homer overall against Pettitte, but 5 for 27 with one homer and 13 strikeouts in the Bronx this year.
The Associated Press News Service
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