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AP - Sports

Though Andy Pettitte's return to the majors did not live up to the hype, the veteran left-hander is only looking ahead.

Pettitte hopes his second start goes better as the New York Yankees look to avoid a season-high fourth consecutive defeat by continuing their interleague success Friday night against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

Back from retirement, the 39-year-old Pettitte took the ball Sunday for the first time since Game 3 of the AL championship series. However, amidst all the celebration, Pettitte allowed a pair of two-run homers and walked three in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss to Seattle.

Despite the result, Pettitte felt right at home and eager to move forward.

"I just cannot believe how comfortable this is for me,'' Pettitte said. "There is not a question in my mind how this is all going to play out for me. It's not about this one start. I'll measure if this was a successful return or not at the end of October.''

Though Pettitte has not faced Cincinnati since 2008 with Houston, he's given up 10 hits and struck out 14 over 11 1-3 scoreless innings of his last two starts against the Reds.

New York (20-18), a major league-best 157-107 against NL opponents, is riding a five-game interleague home winning streak. The Yankees averaged 5.2 runs while going 13-5 against the NL in 2011. That included taking two of three at Cincinnati.

"We'd like to come out and score a lot of runs every day, but it's not always going to be the case," shortstop Derek Jeter, whose 326 interleague hits are the most all-time, told the Yankees' official website. "Obviously, we're a whole lot better when up and down the lineup we're swinging well."

New York, however, has totaled four runs and 13 hits during a three-game skid. Curtis Granderson had two of the Yankees' five hits in Thursday's 4-1 loss at Toronto.

"As a team, we're collectively not getting it done and we need to get better,'' manager Joe Girardi said.

Alex Rodriguez is 3 for 18 in his last five games, but 7 for 19 in his last five versus Cincinnati. He's a lifetime .350 (7 for 20) hitter with two home runs and two homers off scheduled Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 3.25), who should be familiar with the Yankees from his days with Boston.

The right-hander has a 6.99 ERA with no record in seven regular and postseason starts versus New York, but he has not faced the Yankees since 2005.

Arroyo, 7-8 with a 6.00 ERA in 18 interleague starts for Cincinnati, gave up four runs and 11 hits in five innings but did not factor in the decision of a 9-6 win over Washington on Sunday.

After falling 9-4 on Thursday to split a two-game set with the Mets at Citi Field, the Reds (19-18) make the short trek to the Bronx for the first time since taking two of three there in 2008. They are 5-4 all-time against the Yankees.

Cincinnati went 6-12 against the AL last season, and is 97-123 all-time during interleague play.

Batting .390 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last 12 games, Reds star Joey Votto went 7 for 12 with a solo shot at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008.

Teammate Ryan Ludwick is mired in a 4-for-32 slump but will serve as the designated hitter for two of the three games. He's 1 for 7 versus New York.

"I know he's better than he's shown," manager Dusty Baker told the Reds' official website. "The only way to come out of it is to play."

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