Pettitte, who boasts an 8-0 mark since losing to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 8, limited the Oakland Athletics to one hit over eight-plus brilliant innings Sunday afternoon at Network Associates Coliseum.
Pettitte left the game with a 1-0 lead and a runner on first with none out in the ninth before watching helplessly as normally reliable closer Mariano Rivera surrendered his lead in a crushing 2-1 loss.
The setback also snapped a streak of nine straight wins for New York with Pettitte on the mound.
“It hurt,” Pettitte said. “I wanted to stay in there, but who better to come in than Mo? The way (Mark Mulder) was pitching, I was happy to get one run. It’s a shame not to get the win.”
Pettitte’s eight straight wins are already a career high. The left-hander has yielded two earned runs or fewer in each of his last three starts.
The Yankees took Friday’s series opener 9-7 as Nick Johnson belted his first career grand slam and drove in five runs. Hideki Matsui also homered for New York, which holds a four-game lead over second-place Boston in the AL East.
The AL West-leading Mariners have dropped three straight, but maintain a three-game lead over second-place Oakland.
STANDINGS: Mariners - 1st place, AL West. Yankees - 1st place, AL East.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Gil Meche (12-7, 3.78 ERA). Meche has bounced back nicely from a four-start losing streak, winning consecutive outings, including Sunday’s 8-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander allowed one run and four hits over five innings, striking out seven and walking three. Meche has made three career starts against the Yankees, going 1-1 with a 4.11 ERA.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Pettitte (13-6, 4.23 ERA). Pettitte is 8-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 16 career starts against the Mariners.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .335 avg. and 27 SBs; Bret Boone, 29 HRs, 89 RBIs; Suzuki and Boone, 82 runs. Yankees - Derek Jeter, .325 avg.; Jason Giambi, 33 HRs and 88 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 81 runs and 28 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 5-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mariners - RHP Meche is 6-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 11 road starts this season. … Seattle optioned RHP Aaron Looper, cousin of Florida closer Braden Looper, to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. … INF Rey Sanchez strained his right quadriceps muscle Friday and left for a pinch-hitter in the fifth. Yankees - LHP Pettitte is 6-2 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 home starts this year. … RHP Jeff Nelson, acquired from Seattle for RHP Armando Benitez on Wednesday, faced his former club Friday, striking out the side in the top of the eighth. Benitez yielded a run and two hits in the bottom of the inning. … RHP Mariano Rivera has recorded two straight saves after blowing consecutive opportunities. He has 23 on the season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mariners - 34-22 on the road; Yankees - 33-22 at home.
INJURIES: Mariners - 3B Jeff Cirillo (shoulder), 15-day DL; INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; SS Carlos Guillen (pelvis), 15-day DL; RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki (ribs), 15-day DL. Yankees - RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Gabe White (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL.