Pettitte comes up big but not bullpen

On a night when the Yankees were in a must-win situation and with the knowledge that neither setup reliever David Robertson nor closer Mariano Rivera was available, Andy Pettitte handled the pressure of coming up big time in a big situation. This should come as no surprise, of course, considering the pitcher in question has logged 276 2/3 innings in postseason play and is used to stressful workloads.

Pettitte would like to add to his postseason resume and did his part to help the Yankees remain in contention toward that goal Friday night with six sturdy innings that continued a successful run for the lefthander that belies his age, 41, and adds to his reputation as a go-to guy. The Yankees helped his cause by continuing to put up multiple-run innings – four two-run frames during his six innings of work.

It also did not hurt the Yanks’ cause that Red Sox starter Felix Doubront handed out free passes on a regular basis. Doubront walked six batters in his 3 2/3 innings and four of them scored. Alfonso Soriano got the Yankees off to a quick start with his 30th home run of the season, a two-run shot to left, in the first inning.

Doubront walked Vernon Wells to start the second inning, and Eduardo Nunez tripled him home. Chris Stewart’s sacrifice fly scored Nunez. Doubront walked two more batters with two out in the fourth and both scored on a triple by Brett Gardner. The Yanks didn’t need any walks to score twice in the fifth off righthander Rubby De La Rosa on a double by Robinson Cano and singles by Wells, Nunez and Mark Reynolds.

Pettitte was masterful. He allowed three runs, five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts and left with the Yankees ahead, 8-3, through six. Over his past six starts, Andy has pitched to a 1.75 ERA in 36 innings in lowering his season ERA from 4.71 to 4.03. He is 3-0 over that stretch with three no-decisions. Unfortunately, one of those no-decisions was Friday night.

Phil Hughes took the ball from Pettitte and, well, dropped it. In his first relief appearance of the season, Hughes gave up three hits and a walk and left the game in the seventh with the bases full, one run in and one out. Boone Logan did a nice job of striking out David Ortiz, but Mike Napoli proved stiffer competition.

Napoli worked the count full and fouled off two fastballs in the mid-90s before driving a third one to right field off the top of the wall just beyond the reach of Ichiro Suzuki. It was the sixth career grand slam and third this season for Napoli, who victimized Hughes earlier this season.

With that one swing, the score was tied. It only got worse. Preston Claiborne gave up a two-run home run to Shane Victorino in the eighth, and Joba Chamberlain had another rough outing in allowing the Red Sox two more runs.

All of Pettitte’s work went for naught, which was an absolute shame.

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