NEW YORK (AP)—Turns out, Joba Chamberlain is not untouchable.
“I was just kind of out of whack out there,” Chamberlain said. “You’re not always going to be perfect.”
Dellucci’s three-run shot with two outs in the eighth inning spoiled a strong start by Andy Pettitte and boosted a Cleveland offense that’s been struggling mightily.
It was only the second home run allowed in 37 career innings by Chamberlain, the hard-throwing reliever who has been nearly unhittable since reaching the majors last August. Boston’s Mike Lowell hit the other one on Sept. 16.
Dellucci’s shot also marked the first regular-season runs Chamberlain has allowed at Yankee Stadium.
“We’re all vulnerable. The big thing is how you bounce back,” New York closer Mariano Rivera said. “He’s going to be fine.”
Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer off Pettitte, but the Yankees built a 3-2 lead against Fausto Carmona on two RBIs from Jason Giambi and a go-ahead single by Robinson Cano—both mired in miserable slumps all season.
Chamberlain (1-2) entered in the eighth to protect it, and never looked right.
He walked leadoff batter Grady Sizemore, then issued a free pass to Peralta with one out. After Ryan Garko flied out, Dellucci batted for Franklin Gutierrez and lofted a 96 mph fastball to the short porch in right for his 10th career pinch-hit homer and first since June 2006 for Philadelphia against the New York Mets.
“I’m not so sure that’s a good thing,” Dellucci said. “You probably get a number like that because you’re doing a lot of pinch-hitting.”
As the ball landed in the seats, Chamberlain bent over at the waist and hung his head near his knees for several seconds.
“Mad at myself,” he said. “Letting your team down isn’t the best feeling in the world, and that’s what I did.”
The Yankees fell to 15-1 when leading after seven innings this season. They are 26-5 when Chamberlain pitches.
Cleveland played without All-Star catcher Victor Martinez, scratched during batting practice with a stiff neck. He is day to day.
“Dellucci’s homer was big,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We needed someone to step up there.”
The Indians eliminated New York in the first round of the AL playoffs last October, when Chamberlain was famously pestered by those tiny midges while blowing an eighth-inning lead in Game 2. The teams split a four-game set in Cleveland late last month.
Hideki Matsui went 3-for-3 with a walk for New York, extending his team-best hitting streak to 15 games.
Carmona, a 19-game winner last season who dominated the Yankees in last year’s playoffs, has struggled with his control this season. He walked five in five innings Tuesday night, yielding three runs and six hits.
Making his 400th career start, Pettitte was in line to tie Bob Shawkey for fifth place on the franchise wins list at 168 before Chamberlain squandered the lead.
“Probably like everybody else—shocked,” the left-hander said.
After the game, Pettitte told Chamberlain not to worry about it.
“He’s human,” Pettitte said. “I think sometimes we forget that.”
Martinez has a 15-game hitting streak and began the day leading the AL with a .347 batting average. … Demoted to the minors Sunday, Yankees RHP Ian Kennedy allowed one hit in 7 1-3 shutout innings Tuesday night for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Charlotte. He struck out eight and walked none. “This kid’s going to be back and I think he’s going to have a very successful career,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.