Andy ties Whitey for K record in loss

Andy Pettitte couldn’t even come away with a consolation prize Wednesday night. A seventh strikeout in the Yankees’ 8-5 loss to the Rangers would have given Pettitte the club record. His strikeout of Adrian Beltre in the fifth inning was career No. 1,957 for Pettitte, who tied Whitey Ford for the most punchouts by a pitcher in franchise history.

Pettitte’s final inning was the sixth. After retiring A.J. Pierzynski, the leadoff hitter that inning, Pettitte got two strikes on the next four hitters but failed to get strike three each time. Lance Berkman grounded out to third. Mitch Moreland singled to center. David Murphy came back from 0-2 to draw a walk. Leonys Martin ended the inning with a popout to shortstop.

The Yankees tried to get Pettitte off the hook in the bottom of the sixth. Trailing, 4-1, the Yanks rallied to make the score 4-3 on RBI singles by Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner but could get no closer. Lyle Overbay, who had homered off Texas starter Justin Grimm for the Yankees’ first run in the second inning, struck out. After a walk to Zoilo Almonte loaded the bases, Jayson Nix grounded into a double play.

Pettitte’s third consecutive loss that dropped his record to 5-6 came down to one bad inning – the third when the Rangers scored four runs, one of which was unearned due to a throwing error by Nix on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus that filled the bases with none out. Petttitte caught Nelson Cruz looking at a third strike, but Beltre and Pierzynski followed with two-run doubles. Pettitte at least stranded Pierzynski at second by retiring Berkman on a groundout and Moreland on a called third strike.

After the Yankees closed the gap, Joba Chamberlain opened it again in the seventh by giving up a two-run homer to Cruz. Chamberlain needed to be bailed out by Preston Claiborne after being touched for another double by Beltre and a two-out single by Berkman. Claiborne got Moreland on an infield pop for the third out after replacing Chamberlain, whose ERA skied to 6.38.

Chamberlain’s stretch of ineffectiveness covers his past seven appearances in which he has given up nine earned runs in 6 2/3 innings (12.15 ERA).

“He is making mistakes in the middle of the plate,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I still have confidence in him. His stuff is too good not to turn it around.”

The Yankees tried to turn it around for them in the seventh when a two-run home run by Ichiro Suzuki off Ross Wolf again made it a one-run game at 6-5. Yet once again, the Yankees let the Rangers stretch their lead with a two-run ninth. Both runs were not earned. An error by center fielder Brett Gardner, who dropped a drive by Pierzynski on the warning track in left-center, put runners on second and third with one out. A single by Berkman and sacrifice fly by Moreland added insurance runs for Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who notched his 26th save with a perfect bottom of the ninth.

The loss dropped the Yankees 3 ½ games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East and in a virtual tie for second place with the Orioles, who also lost.

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