Yanks' late outburst enough for Pettitte

Yanks' late outburst enough for Pettitte

PHOENIX -- Andy Pettitte had chuckled in the Yankees' pre-series meeting when, while going over scouting reports of the D-backs, someone had mentioned off-handedly not to get lazy with opposing pitcher Dan Haren holding a bat.

That was why Pettitte kicked some dirt off the mound after allowing a second base hit to Haren on Tuesday, a rare blemish on what is shaping up as a renaissance season. Yet while Haren might have gotten to Pettitte, no one else could.

After Alex Rodriguez shouldered the load early, the vintage left-hander enjoyed plenty of offensive support late as the Yankees posted a 9-3 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field.

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

"More than anything, I have to pitch," Pettitte said. "I can't blow guys away; not that I ever could. I just feel like I continue to develop as a pitcher -- both sides of the plate, changing speeds. I'm just feeling really good with all of my pitches."

The victory improved Pettitte to 9-2, continuing the best first-half start of his career and tacking on to a run that has now seen him win four of his past five decisions.

It is becoming impossible for Pettitte to ignore buzz that the 38-year-old -- whom teammates, including A-Rod, have lauded as never being better -- should be a lock to attend the All-Star Game in Anaheim next month.

"It would be nice, there's no doubt," Pettitte said. "I can't say that it would be extremely important to me, but it would definitely be nice. At this stage, not knowing how much longer I've got, it would be extremely cool -- and then obviously to have our coaching staff there, it would be special."

Pettitte got early support as Rodriguez smashed his 592nd career home run, shaking off recent speculation that a right hip labrum issue had dented his power at the plate.

Rodriguez's push to become the seventh member of baseball's 600-homer club got a jump-start in the first inning, as the slugging third baseman connected with a 1-1 fastball and drove it over the left-center-field wall with Derek Jeter aboard.

"I've hit a lot of home runs," Rodriguez said. "The one thing I do worry about is if you're not making solid contact and driving runners in. The columns I worry about are RBIs and wins. For some reason, I've never considered myself a home-run hitter."

Perhaps not, so Rodriguez added a run-scoring single in the third inning, the last of three straight two-out singles Haren surrendered.

"That's a very good lineup, obviously, so any mistake you make, they will probably make you pay," Haren said. "It's not usually the big guys in the middle. It's keeping guys off base in front of them."

The Yankees needed to push back, as Haren was one of the customers who gave Pettitte the most trouble -- even after advance scout and video coordinator Charlie Wonsowicz had pointed to Haren's .425 batting average coming into Tuesday's play, warning Pettitte that this was no easy out.

Pettitte allowed only Haren's two-out, two-run single down the right-field line in the second inning before slamming the door and charging ahead for seven innings of two-run, seven-hit ball. He even contributed a single behind his own cause.

"I was a little tired after the second inning, and to be out there on the bases, you kind of forget -- especially at my age -- how you have to conserve your energy out there," Pettitte said. "I wasn't feeling good. I was just trying to focus on my mechanics."

Still, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Pettitte was "outstanding."

"As long as he wasn't facing Danny Haren, he was really good," Girardi said, with a laugh. "To stop it at two runs in that inning, I thought was really important. I think he was around 40 or 45 pitches, and to be able to go seven strong innings was great."

Making his first start in Arizona wearing a Yankees uniform since the disastrous 15-2 loss in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series, Pettitte walked two and struck out seven. After Haren touched second base in the fifth inning, no other D-backs batter would.

"You see the cutter on TV," said Arizona's Cole Gillespie, "and you can do as much of a scouting report on him as you want, but you see him in the batter's box and it's tough to recognize the first time around. So we tried to make some adjustments, but he threw well."

The Yankees cracked the game open with a six-run eighth inning, highlighted by Colin Curtis' two-run double -- his first Major League hit and RBIs.

"It was an amazing feeling getting out there," Curtis said. "We put together a big inning, and to cap it off with the first big league hit, I knew I hit it good and I started running."

Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson also drove in runs in the lengthy frame, as the Yankees sent 10 batters to the plate against relievers Esmerling Vasquez and Chad Qualls, posting their 10th victory in 15 games.

"I like breathing room," Girardi said. "Maybe if I was a spectator, there's a lot of things you like about close games. They're intriguing when you're a spectator or announcer. When you're a manager, you like breathing room."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.