NEW YORK (AP) -Andy Pettitte was sitting at home Wednesday morning, watching the Little League World Series on TV when he saw his name scrolling across the bottom of the screen.
The caption informed him that if Pettitte beat the Texas Rangers, he'd tie Lefty Gomez for third place on the New York Yankees' career win list - quite the milestone for a veteran pitcher who admittedly prefers to stay out of the spotlight.
Once again, he couldn't avoid it.
Pettitte went out and tossed seven sharp innings, and got some instant offense from Jorge Posada's three-run homer in the Yankees' seemingly effortless 9-2 victory.
``He's a great pitcher,' Derek Jeter said, standing a few feet away from Pettitte. ``When he's on a roll like this, he's fun to play behind.'
Jeter and Mark Teixeira each had a pair of RBIs, and Jerry Hairston Jr. added a solo homer for the Yankees. It was the fourth time in five games that the highest-scoring team in the majors scored at least eight runs, even if they didn't need them all with Pettitte on the hill.
Helped by a slew of double plays, he allowed two runs and five hits to win his third straight decision. Pettitte (11-6) now has 189 victories in pinstripes, behind only Hall of Famers Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231).
``Definitely it was good to get those three runs early,' he said. ``It was a good game for us.'
Nearly perfect if not for some fluke bounces.
Alex Rodriguez came up hobbling after fouling a ball off his left foot in the seventh, but remained in the game at third base for another half inning. Then in the eighth, Posada took a foul ball off his gloved hand behind the plate and immediately began shaking it. He left the game, and X-rays were negative on what manager Joe Girardi called a bruised ring finger.
``My biggest concern is always injuries,' Girardi said, ``and it's something you can't control.'
David Murphy homered and drove in both runs for the Rangers, who are desperately trying to keep pace in the playoff chase. They dropped five games behind the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West and 2 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the wild card after both teams won.
Murphy's solo shot in the seventh got the Rangers within 4-2 and snapped Pettitte's streak of 49 2-3 innings without allowing a homer. The left-hander promptly fanned Elvis Andrus to end the inning, and the Yankees tacked on five runs in the bottom half to put it out of reach.
``They're obviously a very potent offense,' Murphy said. ``They showed us that in that inning.'
Derek Holland (7-8) allowed six runs on seven hits in six-plus innings in another poor outing against New York. The 22-year-old left-hander had been 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last three starts, but has allowed 12 runs in two starts against the Yankees this season.
``The results certainly aren't what we wanted, but I didn't think I pitched badly,' Holland said. ``I know they're the Yankees, but I try to treat them like any other team. I don't want to give them too much credit.'
Then again, perhaps the team with the best record in baseball deserves it.
After Pettitte bailed the Yankees out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, Posada drove a 1-1 pitch over the center-field wall for his 17th homer of the season, staking New York to a 3-0 lead in the second. Hairston added his homer in the fourth, and despite the Rangers scratching out a couple of runs, they never could dig all the way back.
Trailing 9-2 in the eighth, Texas loaded the bases off Brian Bruney only to watch Rodriguez start his third 5-4-3 double-play of the game. It was the fourth turned by the Yankees and wiped out one final would-be rally.
``They're an explosive team and we knew that,' Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ``All you can do is put this game away and look towards tomorrow's game.'
NOTES: Rangers C Jarrod Saltalamacchia said he's still targeting Sept. 1 for his return from the DL. Saltalamacchia has thoracic outlet syndrome, causing numbness in his right (throwing) hand. ... There was a moment of silence before the game for Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died late Tuesday night at 77. ... Jack Nicholson and Paul McCartney were on hand for the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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