Pettitte leaves Yanks win with stiff back

May 29, 2009 9:16:45 PM PDT
Andy Pettitte pitched five scoreless innings before leaving with a stiff back in the sixth, and the New York Yankees ended the Cleveland Indians' season-high, four-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory Friday night. Jorge Posada had two hits in his return to the Yankees' lineup. The catcher missed 22 games with a strained right hamstring.

New York moved into the AL East lead by a half-game over Boston, which lost in Toronto 6-3. The Yankees have won 13 of 17 since May 13.

Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances. It was the 58th time he saved a win for Pettitte. That's the most for a pitching combo since the save became an official stat in 1969, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley saved 57 wins by Bob Welch for Oakland.

Pettitte (5-1) allowed six hits before leaving with two runners on and none out in the sixth.

Manager Joe Girardi and assistant trainer Steve Donahue went to the mound after Pettitte went to a 2-0 count on Jamey Carroll. After a short discussion, Pettitte jogged to the dugout and was replaced by Alfredo Aceves.

In the fourth, Donahue and Girardi checked on Pettitte after he bent over with his hands on his knees following a pitch. The left-hander stayed in the game without throwing any warmup pitches.

Aceves completed a walk to Carroll that was charged to Pettitte, loading the bases with none out. But Cleveland scored only one run, on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Shin-Soo Choo that made it 3-1.

Cleveland's Cliff Lee (2-6) worked into and out of jams for six innings. The reigning AL Cy Young winner gave up three runs and nine hits.

After a rain delay of 1 hour, 25 minutes, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the first. Lee then struck out Robinson Cano and Posada to end the threat.

Derek Jeter had an RBI single and Mark Teixeira a bases-loaded RBI groundout in the second to make it 2-0. Lee threw a called third strike past Alex Rodriguez to end that rally.

Nick Swisher's sacrifice fly made it 3-0 in the third.

The Indians stranded six runners in the first three innings, leaving the bases loaded in the third.

Lee walked two and struck out five, but fell to 1-4 in his last eight starts.

Notes: Posada tied Elston Howard for 21st in Yankees history with 1,405 hits. ... It was the fourth straight game in Cleveland delayed by rain. The delays totaled 6 hours, 32 minutes. ... Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards took batting practice with the Indians. "He's pretty good," Indians RHP Jensen Lewis said after Edwards hit the final pitch from first base coach Luis Rivera about 380 feet and into the left-field bleachers. ... New York optioned C Kevin Cash to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Posada. ... Girardi said OF Melky Cabrera (bruised right shoulder) might return Monday. ... C Jose Molina (left quadriceps strain) got seven plate appearances in a simulated game at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa, Fla., on Friday. He is scheduled to catch for the first time Saturday. ... Cleveland recalled LHP Rafael Perez from Triple-A Columbus and designated for assignment OF David Dellucci. ... Pettitte passed Waite Hoyt for seventh in team history for innings pitched with 2,275 2-3 innings for New York.