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Pettitte's Gem Lifts Yankees


The New York Yankees didn't get the slugger they really coveted. But they sure got the pitching they needed.

After trading Ricky Ledee for David Justice before the game, the Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 8-0 behind Andy Pettitte's second career shutout.

Deals for sluggers Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa fell through in the past week, so the Yankees settled for Cleveland's Justice. But pitching remains manager Joe Torre's top concern, and he was ecstatic about Pettitte's six-hitter.

"David or Goliath don't help us if we don't pitch," Torre said. "It was a big lift for us. He didn't waste a whole lot over nine innings and then threw about 120 pitches. That's incredible. Everything seemed to be working for him."

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  • The Tigers, shut out for a major league-high 10th time, scored a combined 20 runs to beat the Yankees the previous two nights but could get nothing going against Pettitte (8-4).

    "That's what we needed," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "The way they've been swinging the bat and scoring the runs, we needed someone to shut them down."

    Tigers manager Phil Garner said Pettitte had all his pitches working.

    "It's the best I've seen him throw in a long time," Garner said. "He had a really good sinker; he was throwing it downhillAnd his breaking ball had good movement on it tonight."

    Pettitte (8-4), who last pitched Sunday at Chicago, was moved up a day when Ramiro Mendoza was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a sore shoulder.

    "I was determined to go out there and put in a great start," Pettitte said. "You hope you can go out there relaxed and have the movement on the pitches you want. Hopefully this will carry over to the next start."

    Pettitte evened his career record for pitching on three days' rest to 2-2. He struck out five and walked two in his first shutout since July 5, 1997, at Toronto.

    "Trade or no trade, no matter who we bring over, we win here because we pitch well," Pettitte said. "That's the way we've won for four years."

    The win was the Yankees' first in six tries at Detroit's new Comerica Park. It snapped a three-game losing streak and left the two-time defending World Series champions 16-26 since reaching a season-high 13 games over .500 on May 9.

    Perhaps relieved that all the recent trade talk is finally resolved, New York went out and hammered Tigers starter Dave Mlicki (2-9). The Yankees scored eight runs in the fourth inning, including a record-tying three sacrifice flies.

    "I'm happy, and hopefully this will quiet things down so we can focus on baseball," Torre said. "Hopefully it takes some of the distractions away so we can focus."

    Mlicki, who beat the Yankees to finish the Tigers' three-game sweep May 14, lasted only 3 1-3 innings and gave up six earned runs and nine hits. Mlicki had missed his last scheduled start because of a severe sinus infection.

    "Whatever happened out there tonight didn't have anything to do with that," Mlicki said. "I was just off my spots and I couldn't hit my fastball today."

    The Yankees sent 13 men to the plate and scored eight times on eight hits and an error in the fourth.

    Jeter's two-run double was the big hit. Bernie Williams had an RBI triple, Chris Turner a run-scoring double and Chuck Knoblauch an RBI single.

    Three sacrifice flies occurred because Jose Vizcaino reached first when his fly ball was dropped by left-fielder Bobby Higginson, allowing Scott Brosius to score from third. Tino Martinez and Williams hit conventional sacrifice flies.

    Both Higginson and Garner argued that Vizcaino should've been out because the ball came loose as Higginson was transferring it to his hand for a throw home. But third base umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled it no catch.

    Kellogg is the same umpire who ejected Torre and Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer for arguing a double play call against New York on Tuesday.

    Notes

  • The Tigers, who beat New York 13-6 Wednesday, are now 2-9 in games after they've scored in double digits.
  • There have been three sacrifice flies in an inning once before. The Chicago White Sox did it on July 1, 1962 against Cleveland.
  • Williams is 19-for-44 (.432) on the Yankees' road trip.
  • The Tigers failed to get their first home season series sweep of the Yankees since 1988. The Yankees are just 3-9 in Detroit the last two seasons.

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