NEW YORK (AP) -Andy Pettitte got a bunch of hugs from appreciative teammates, and a ball and a big grin from Mariano Rivera. Then his former pitching coach and Yankees great Ron Guidry called with congratulations.
This was no ordinary victory.
Pettitte threw 7 1-3 sharp innings to become the third player to earn 200 wins with New York, beating his hometown Houston Astros 4-3 on Friday night.
``It's special,' he said. ``There's not a lot of guys that have won that many games as a Yankee, so it's a good thing.'
Francisco Cervelli hit a two-out, two-run single in New York's three-run first inning, and Mark Teixeira added an RBI single in the fifth, also with two outs.
Pettitte (8-1) allowed two earned runs and four hits in his first start against his former team, improving to 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last four games. He struck out four after recording a season-high 10 Ks in his previous outing last Saturday at Toronto.
``He just really buckled down and started making pitch after pitch after pitch,' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Pettitte, a Louisiana native who lives in the Houston suburb of Deer Park, played for the Astros from 2004-06, going 37-26 with a 3.38 ERA. He is still close to Houston first baseman Lance Berkman and right-hander Roy Oswalt.
``It's like facing an older brother in Wiffle Ball,' Berkman said. ``You're torn because you want to do well, but you don't want to hurt him. But then he puts his glove over his face and it's like facing Darth Vader.'
Tommy Manzella hit a two-run double in the second for Houston, which had won three straight and eight of 10. Brett Myers (4-4) allowed four runs and five hits in seven innings.
The Astros returned to the Bronx on the seventh anniversary of their combined no-hitter at the old Yankee Stadium. Houston used Oswalt and five relievers in the first no-hitter at New York since 1952, setting a record for the most pitchers to combine on a hitless gem.
Missing Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees kicked off a nine-game homestand with their sixth consecutive win at their second-year ballpark and fourth win in five games overall. Rodriguez is day to day after an MRI revealed tendinitis in his right hip flexor.
``To me, it's my groin. It's all pretty connected there,' said Rodriguez, who missed the beginning of last season after hip surgery. ``But I feel pretty good and again, the most important part, the MRI came out negative and we feel good about that.'
Pettitte also reached 3,000 career innings when he retired the first two batters of the game, joining Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer as the only active pitchers to reach the mark. Whitey Ford and Red Ruffing are the only other players to reach 200 wins with the Yankees, and Pettitte snapped a tie with Ford for 58th on the career list with win No. 237 for good measure.
``I just feel very fortunate, very blessed to have been able to play in this organization,' Pettitte said.
The left-hander, who turns 38 on Tuesday, got a warm ovation from the crowd of 46,883 when he left with runners on second and third. Jeff Keppinger hit a sacrifice fly off Joba Chamberlain to cut it to 4-3 before Berkman struck out swinging to end the inning.
Berkman thought he checked his swing on the 2-2 pitch and flipped his bat and helmet in disgust as he went to take his position in the field.
Rivera worked a perfect ninth for his 15th save in 16 opportunities.
The Yankees got off to a fast start against Myers, even with Rodriguez and outfielder Brett Gardner (sprained left thumb) on the bench. They loaded the bases with one out and Nick Swisher drew a full-count walk to give New York the lead.
After Jorge Posada struck out, Cervelli bounced an 0-2 pitch from Myers up the middle to make it 3-0.
``I felt like I was rushing my mechanics,' Myers said. ``If I'd been better than that in the first inning, we would have had a better chance to win.'
Myers helped himself with a nice stab on Cervelli's liner in the sixth before throwing to first for the double play. Second baseman Keppinger made a great play on Ramiro Pena's bouncer in the fourth and center fielder Michael Bourn had a solid running catch on Derek Jeter's drive in the seventh.
``He made a Gold Glove play the way he chased that ball down,' Astros manager Brad Mills said of Bourn's grab.
Teixeira's looper in the fifth landed just over the head of Keppinger and drove in Kevin Russo to make it 4-2.
NOTES: Oswalt, who has wondered aloud if a trade might be best for him and the team, is keeping his options open. New York ``is just as good as every other city,' the Mississippi native said. ``Every city I go to is big. It's different from where I grew up but baseball is baseball no matter where you play.' General manager Ed Wade refused to talk about any potential deals. ``I think there's really no value to it, on our part,' he said. ... C Posada looked sharp during pregame fielding drills. He has been limited to DH duties since he came off the DL after being sidelined with a broken right foot.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved