Andy Pettitte has allowed three runs in 17 innings spanning his last two starts. And he has nothing to show for it.
In desperate need of some run support, the left-hander looks to continue one of the most dominating stretches of his career when the New York Yankees open a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Pettitte won a career-best eight consecutive decisions after losing to the Chicago Cubs on June 8. That streak could have easily reached 10 games if not for a heartbreaking no-decision against Oakland on Aug. 3, followed by a hard-luck loss to Seattle on Saturday.
The first pitcher to win at least 12 games in his first nine major league seasons since Hall of Famer Stan Covaleski did it for Cleveland from 1916-26, Pettitte threw a five-hitter for his first complete game of the year against the Mariners.
However, the Yankees were stymied by Seattle’s Gil Meche and Pettitte suffered a 2-1 loss.
“His stuff has been so consistent,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “Hopefully, we’ll keep him like this. He certainly has a great deal of confidence when he goes out there, and if he pitches games like this, he’s going to win most of the time.”
That performance followed Pettitte’s masterful pitching duel with Oakland’s Mark Mulder in his previous start. He took a one-hitter into the ninth before closer Mariano Rivera blew the save and the game.
“Any time you lose, it’s hard,” Pettitte said. “I just try to pitch well and give us a chance to win. I’ve been able to do that my last couple of starts, but we haven’t been able to win.
The Yankees have lost four of five, capped with Wednesday’s 11-0 loss to the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals. The setback was New York’s most lopsided loss of the season.
By taking two of the three games, the Royals won their first home series from the Yankees since Sept. 10-12, 1993.
Baltimore has lost three straight and four of five with Wednesday’s 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, completing the three-game sweep.
Brian Roberts, Lus Matos, Jay Gibbons and Deivi Cruz each had two hits for the Orioles, who had at least one runner reach base in each of first seven innings but went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position during the stretch.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Orioles - 4th place, 15 GB, AL East.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Pettitte (13-7, 4.10 ERA). Pettitte has thrived in his career against Baltimore, going 16-4 with a 3.80 ERA and one complete game.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Damian Moss (0-1, 2.63 ERA). Acquired from San Francisco along with right-hander Kurt Ainsworth and left-hander Ryan Hannaman for Orioles ace Sidney Ponson at the non-waiver trade deadline, Moss is still looking for his first win in a Baltimore uniform. The left-hander, who is 0-1 with a 3.41 ERA in his two Orioles starts, didn’t receive a decision in Baltimore’s 6-4 loss to Boston on Saturday. He allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings, walking four and striking out just one. He makes his first career start against the Yankees.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Derek Jeter, .322 avg.; Jason Giambi, 34 HRs and 91 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 83 runs and 28 SBs. Orioles - Melvin Mora, .325 avg.; Tony Batista, 20 HRs; Gibbons, 82 RBIs; Jeff Conine, 69 runs; Roberts, 18 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - The Yankees have lost three of their last four series. … 3B Aaron Boone is hitting .136 (6-for-44) with one double and one RBI since being acquired from Cincinnati on July 31. … LHP David Wells underwent an MRI exam and doctors said he will miss one start. LHP Sterling Hitchcock, used as a long man in the bullpen, will fill in for him Saturday. Orioles - SS Cruz is hitting .458 with two homers and four RBIs in 24 career at-bats against LHP Pettitte. … The Orioles have been successful on 34 of their last 43 stolen base attempts. … OF Marty Cordova, on the DL after having elbow surgery, is swinging a bat and has started a throwing program. But there is no timetable for when he will return.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 38-23 on the road; Orioles - 31-27 at home.
INJURIES: 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. Orioles - INF David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Mora (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Ainsworth (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Willis Roberts (knee), 60-day DL; INF Jerry Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL.