With trade rumors finally put to rest, Andy Pettitte pitched his best game of the year.
Pettitte allowed one run in eight innings and Derek Jeter broke out of the worst slump of his career with a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth to lead the New York Yankees to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I have to believe the trade stuff was in the back of Andy's mind," manager Joe Torre said. "I think he bottomed out his last start. He took stock of himself and realized things had to change and he was going to trust himself."
Joe Girardi led off the eighth with a hustling double. He blooped a fly ball to shallow left center that Jacob Brumfield trapped. After Chuck Knoblauch sacrificed, Jeter homered over the left-field wall on a 1-2 pitch.
"I made him look foolish on the pitch before that," Wells said. "It was the same thing, a cutter in. But he got his hands in and the balls today aren't like they used to be in the old days. Guys hit them out off the handle."
Jeter's career-high 20th homer ended an 0-for-17 skid that matched the longest hitless streak of his career.
"I think you guys are more relieved than I am," Jeter said. "You built it up like I was 0-for-100. Keep some perspective. It was ust a few games."
It had been nearly a season-long slump for Pettitte (8-8), who was nearly dealt to Philadelphia for minor leaguers at last week's trade deadline. His lack of aggressiveness drew the ire of owner George Steinbrenner, who was pushing for the trade.
Torre argued to keep Pettitte and Steinbrenner relented but made it clear it wasn't his preference. On Sunday, Steinbrenner issued a challenge to Pettitte to "show what kind of man he is."
"That's Mr. Steinbrenner," Pettitte said. "I think he respects me and what I have done. Maybe that's his way to motivate me. Let him feel like he was the one who got me going."
Or maybe it was seeing Jim Leyritz, Pettitte's personal catcher when he went 21-8 in 1996, playing first base. Leyritz, who came over from San Diego in a trade Saturday, reminded Pettitte before the game what made him successful.
"We talked about using all of his pitches more," Leyritz said. "I wasn't telling him something he didn't know. The guys said he seemed more relaxed. I think the pressure of the trade deadline was off him."
Pettitte allowed six hits and walked none in his longest outing of the year. He faced the minimum number of batters in seven of his eight innings, helped by two double plays and a caught stealing.
"I was relaxed tonight," Pettitte said. "I didn't overthrow my pitches and I kept focused. That's the key."
Mariano Rivera, pitching for the first time in six days, got three outs for his 28th save in 32 chances.
For seven innings, Wells, a fan favorite during his two years in New York, was just as effective as Pettitte, allowing only a solo homer to Chili Davis in the fourth. But Jeter broke through in the eighth.
Wells, who was 13-5 with a 3.12 ERA against the Yankees before this season, is 0-3 with a 5.49 ERA against New York since being traded for Roger Clemens in February.
"We haven't beat them this year," said Wells, who allowed seven hits in his fourth complete game. "It's pretty sad because we have a good ball club too. This is the type of team I want to face. I know I can beat these people."
The Blue Jays scored their only run in the fifth on an RBI single by Jacob Brumfield.
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