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Joba seeks first win as a starter vs. Bucs

Joba seeks first win as a starter

PITTSBURGH -- The training wheels are officially off.

When Joba Chamberlain walks to the mound on Wednesday for the bottom of the first inning, he'll do so knowing that no specific "rules" apply to him -- much to the chagrin of the witty T-shirt manufacturers from last season.

Having reached a career-high 100 pitches in his last start, the 22-year-old Chamberlain can be considered a full-fledged member of the Yankees rotation.

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"I was an out away from six innings last time," Chamberlain said. "You've got to continue to try and get deep in the game. Your offense will keep you in the ballgame, you've just got to try to limit your pitches and get outs."

His leash may still be a little more taut than that of a veteran like Andy Pettitte, but the Yankees are ready to let their flame-throwing right-hander loose to keep showing just why there was such a clamor to get him ready for starting duty.

Chamberlain's last start came on June 19 vs. San Diego, and though he allowed just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings and matched the Yankees' season high for strikeouts with nine, he was still left looking for his first Major League victory as a starter.

Still, the recovery period -- most important to him -- went off without a hitch, and Chamberlain now believes his right arm has been geared up to adjust nicely to the five-day rotation. Or in the case of this start, due to the off-day on Monday, an extra 24 hours of recovery.

"It was awesome," Chamberlain said. "It was actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I've been fortunate enough to have an extra day both times."

After suffering a 12-5 defeat in the series opener on Tuesday, the Yankees will again be looking to log their first victory in Pittsburgh since Game 6 of the 1960 World Series, when Whitey Ford threw the second of his two shutouts in that year's Fall Classic to defeat Bob Friend and the Bucs at Forbes Field.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi wouldn't be born for another four years and didn't grow up rooting for the Bronx Bombers, so Bill Mazeroski's crushing Game 7 home run off Ralph Terry holds little personal significance. But trips to Pittsburgh -- it was Three Rivers Stadium when Girardi was a player -- remain memorable for other reasons.

"I've always enjoyed coming here," Girardi said. "I always thought this was a great baseball town. I always thought the fans were great, and they always had good teams. I'm sure there's some grandfathers telling their grandkids about the 1960 World Series and they're reminiscing. That's a good thing."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Joba Chamberlain (1-2, 2.36 ERA)
In his fourth career start, Chamberlain pitched 5 2/3 solid innings, fanning nine in a no-decision against San Diego on Thursday. Chamberlain threw 100 pitches -- 58 for strikes -- holding the Padres to one run, four hits and three walks. Of the nine strikeouts, eight were swinging. He has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in all four of his big league starts, and this will be his first career appearance vs. Pittsburgh.

PIT: LHP Zach Duke (4-4, 3.91 ERA)
Duke was brilliant in his last start against the Blue Jays on Friday. He was efficient in every facet of the game, throwing 64 of his 97 pitches for strikes. He went a solid seven innings and allowed no runs on six hits. Duke continues to be the Pirates' most consistent starter throughout the 2008 season and looks to continue his streak against the Yankees, whom he has never faced in his career.

Tidbits
Right-hander Ian Kennedy began a rehab assignment on Monday with the Gulf Coast Yankees, pitching three innings and earning a win against the Gulf Coast Tigers (3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 58 pitches). ... Righty Humberto Sanchez made his first rehab start on Tuesday for the GCL Yankees at the Phillies, throwing 28 pitches over two-thirds of an inning (1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K). ... The only current stadiums the Yankees have yet to play in are San Diego's PETCO Park and Washington's new Nationals Park.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 10-5, 3.93) at Pirates (Paul Maholm, 5-5, 4.41), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (Sidney Ponson, 4-1, 3.88) vs. Mets (TBD), 2:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (Dan Giese, 1-2, 0.64) at Mets (TBD), 8:10 p.m. ET

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

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