Andy Pettitte came up big last night, holding the Orioles to one sixth-inning run in 7 2/3 innings on his way to his 200th career victory. It wasn't easy, however, as Brian Burres was nearly as good, striking out seven in 7 1/3 innings while limiting the Yankees to two runs on five hits and three walks.
The first Yankee run scored in the third inning on a Hideki Matsui solo homer into the old Yankee bullpen, his second tater of the series. The second scored in the fifth when Doug Mientkiewicz led off with a single and came around on a Derek Jeter single, a Bobby Abreu groundout, and a wild pitch that Burres threw on a fly to the backstop with Alex Rodriguez at the plate. The O's got their tally in the top of the sixth when Brian Roberts drew a one-out walk, stole second and third, and was plated by a Melvin Mora single.
In the eighth, Joba Chamberlain made his first mid-inning relief appearance, coming in with two out and none on to strike out Melvin Mora on four pitches, two of them nasty sliders. Mariano Rivera pushed things to the limit in the ninth. Nick Markakis doubled on a flare to no-man's land down the line in right. Then, after Kevin Millar flied out, Mo pitched carefully to Aubrey Huff and Ramon Hernandez, walking both of them to load the bases before finally retiring rookie pinch hitter Scott Moore to deliver the 2-1 win.
While Mo was making things interesting in the ninth, the news came across the out-of-town scoreboard that the Blue Jays completed a sweep of the Red Sox with a 6-1 win, the big blow being a Russ Adams grand slam off Jon Papelbon in the eighth that padded their own 2-1 lead. As a result, the Yankees are now just 1.5 games behind in the East, and only one game back in the loss column, while the Red Sox have slipped a half game behind the Indians and Angels for the best record in the American League. The only bad news there is that the Yankees have to play the Blue Jays next.
In other news, Melky Cabrera went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk, making him 2 for 6 over the last two games. Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts, but did cream one ball to the wall in left, where Brandon Fahey (in for Jay Payton who got tossed after tossing his helmet after a third strike call) made a great running catch. Rodriguez also made a great play by charging and bare-handing an infield dink by Brian Roberts in the eighth to keep the tying run off base. That play was assisted by an impressive stretch by Doug Mientkiewicz, who made three such plays on the night in addition to scoring the winning run. The first of those plays came on a double play, the first of three the Yankees would turn behind Pettitte on the night. Shelley Duncan made his first start since September 5, drawing a walk and striking out in three trips as the DH while Johnny Damon got the night off. Finally, Jason Giambi had an MRI on his right foot, which was hit by a Daniel Cabrera slider in Monday's game. The test came back negative and Giambi is expected to return to the lineup once the soreness from the bruise subsides.