After a walk-off grand slam started New York’s 10-game road trip on a sour note, the Yankees will try to rebound behind Andy Pettitte on Tuesday as they continue their four-game series in Arlington.
Monday’s 9-5 loss was New York’s sixth in the last nine games. The Yankees (61-51) have allowed nine or more runs five times over that span.
In the series opener against Texas, Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd hit a two-out grand slam in the ninth inning off newly acquired reliever Damaso Marte, ending the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak at Rangers Ballpark.
Joba Chamberlain had allowed the first five runs before leaving after 4 2-3 innings with a shoulder injury, and closer Mariano Rivera was unavailable for a second straight day due to a back problem. New York’s staff, already missing Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes to injuries, now has a 7.12 ERA in its last nine games after compiling a 1.56 ERA during an eight-game winning streak following the All-Star break.
As a result, the Yankees remain 5 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay in the AL East and 2 1/2 back of Boston for the wild card.
Pettitte (12-8, 4.18 ERA) had plenty of his own problems in his last start on Thursday, giving up nine runs and a season-high 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 12-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels - an effort he called “embarrassing.” The veteran left-hander had been 7-2 with a 2.11 ERA in his previous nine starts.
“I was terrible tonight,” Pettitte told the Yankees’ official Web site. “I’ve got one responsibility, and that’s to try and give this team a chance to win. Obviously, I didn’t do it tonight, and it’s very frustrating.”
Pettitte has an 8.10 ERA in six career starts at Texas, but he’s only pitched there once since 2000, tossing six innings and allowing two runs last season without recording a decision. He’s 1-4 with a 4.37 ERA in his last seven starts against the Rangers overall.
He’ll face a Texas lineup that has scored 91 runs in its last 12 games. The Rangers (59-54) easily lead the majors with 640 total runs in 2008.
In addition to Byrd’s timely home run Monday, Michael Young hit a three-run shot and David Murphy homered, tripled and drove in two runs, helping Texas move five games above .500 for the first time this season and move within five games of the Red Sox for the wild card.
“It was big because of the way that we did it, against the team we did it against, factoring in the circumstances,” Murphy said. “We’ll ride this for a while.”
On Wednesday, they’ll hope to support rookie left-hander Matt Harrison (2-2, 7.40), who faces the Yankees for the first time.
Since beating the Los Angeles Angels in his July 8 major league debut, Harrison is 1-2 with a 9.35 ERA in his last four starts, having tossed a total of just 17 1-3 innings over that span.
He allowed six runs - four earned - in 4 2-3 innings of Thursday’s 8-5 loss to Seattle.