Pettitte, Cano lead Yanks to 8th straight win

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BOSTON (AP)—Robinson Cano and Andy Pettitte are doing it again, rounding into form as the New York Yankees gear up for another playoff run.

Cano homered and drove in three runs, Pettitte gave the Yankees another strong start and New York beat the Boston Red Sox 10-3 Saturday for its season-best eighth straight win.

The Yankees closed within one game of second-place Boston in the AL East and remained unbeaten since the All-Star break. Tampa Bay beat Kansas City 5-3 to move two games ahead of the Red Sox.

“It’s important to stay in the present,” Alex Rodriguez said. “We don’t want to look too far ahead and too far behind. “

Cano, who hit just .219 in his first 54 games, is batting .514 (18-for-35) since the All-Star break. He’s batting .341 after the break over the past three seasons.

“The All-Star break came at a good time for this team,” Johnny Damon said. “Robinson was able to gather his thoughts. He was swinging the bat well. He’s a big reason we’re on the streak we’re on now.”

Newly acquired Xavier Nady started in left field in his first game with New York, and reliever Damaso Marte struck out David Ortiz in a key spot. The Yankees finalized their deal with Pittsburgh on Saturday, acquiring Nady and Marte for four minor leaguers.

Rodriguez was drilled on the left arm by Red Sox reliever Craig Hansen in the eighth and fans cheered. Rodriguez stayed in the game before being replaced at third base in the bottom half by Wilson Betemit.

“No,” Rodriguez told reporters when asked if he thought the pitch was intentional. “That’s all, guys.”

Hansen was wild throughout the three-run inning, walking three batters.

In New York’s 1-0 win in the opener Friday night, Joba Chamberlain drew the ire of Boston’s bench after he threw a high, inside pitch that sent Kevin Youkilis to the ground in the seventh.

Pettitte (12-7) allowed one earned run and struck out seven over six innings to continue a brilliant run by New York starters. They’ve allowed three earned runs or less in 15 of their last 16 games.

“Our pitching has been really good all year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s what’s kept us afloat. And now we’re starting to hit better. We’re starting to score runs. It’s a good combination to have.”

Pettitte improved to 110-44 with a 3.51 ERA in his career after the break, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“I was able to make some big pitches when I needed to today,” said Pettitte, who earned career win No. 213. “I was very fortunate I was able to get a win and keep this rolling. We’re on a roll now.”

Marte entered with runners at first and second and one out in the seventh and struck out Ortiz on four pitches. Edwar Ramirez then retired Manny Ramirez on a fly to center.

Manny Ramirez, who missed the series opener with what he said was a sore right knee, batted fourth and went 0-for-4, ending an 11-game hitting streak. Manager Terry Francona said MRIs on both knees “came back fine” but wouldn’t say if his slugger was disciplined.

“It doesn’t affect us at all,” knuckleballer Tim Wakefield said. “We’ve got to get ready to play whether he’s in the lineup or not.”

The Red Sox have won just three of their last eight games, scoring 25 runs. In his second game after missing 45 with a wrist injury, Ortiz went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

“We want to play better and we want to get on a good rhythm,” Mike Lowell said. “We got David back now so hopefully everyone kind of falls into their slot, our offense can get more consistent and we can maybe get on a roll.”

Rodriguez’s first-inning error led to two unearned runs but Bobby Abreu singled in a run in the third and the Yankees took the lead for good in the fourth on Cano’s ninth homer and Damon’s RBI single.

New York pushed across four more runs in the sixth, chasing Wakefield (6-8). Damon drove in Nady with a fielder’s choice before rookie reliever Justin Masterson entered.

Masterson, who retired all eight batters Wednesday in his only relief appearance after nine starts, allowed RBI hits to all three hitters he faced—a single by Derek Jeter, a double by Abreu and a single by Rodriguez.

J.D. Drew drove in Boston’s other run with his 19th homer in the sixth.

Notes

The Red Sox lost two straight at home for just the third time this season. … Edwar Ramirez retired four batters and walked one and has retired 36 of the last 41 batters he’s faced, allowing just one hit. … With 16 wins against the Red Sox, Pettitte is tied with Randy Johnson for second among active pitchers. Mike Mussina has 20. … To make room on the 25-man active roster for Nady and Marte, the Yankees optioned OF Brett Gardner to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and designated RHP LaTroy Hawkins for assignment. They also announced that LHP Kei Igawa cleared waivers and was outrighted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia’s hitting streak ended at nine games.

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