PHILADELPHIA - If the New York Yankees have any money left over after the World Series, they might consider buying a bunch of earplugs. Because Derek Jeter predicts they’re going to hear it all winter from Andy Pettitte.
The winningest pitcher in postseason history hung on for another victory Saturday night. He got an unlikely contribution — from his own black bat.
Minus the DH at Citizens Bank Park, Pettitte needed to swing for himself. He did fine, delivering a tying single that helped the Yankees beat Philadelphia 8-5 for a 2-1 Series lead over the defending champion Phillies.
Hmmm, might Pettitte be in a position to pinch hit?
“I was joking with a few of the guys, I’ve got a few World Series knocks now, and now I’ve got an RBI, so pretty happy about that,” he said.
His fifth-inning looper off Cole Hamels marked the first RBI by a Yankees pitcher in the World Series since Jim Bouton in 1964. While a batboy ran a jacket to Pettitte at first base, Jeter stepped into the batter’s box.
“We’re going to have to listen to Pettitte now,” the Yankees captain told plate umpire Brian Gorman in a conversation replayed on Fox. “He’s been bragging about his hitting all year.”
Pettitte later hustled home on Johnny Damon’s double. Well, the ol’ left-hander did the best he could on the bases — Jeter almost lapped Pettitte after rounding third.
“I could have caught him,” Jeter said.
No argument there from the 37-year-old pitcher.
“First of all, I have no wheels at all. I know that. I am very slow. I mean, very slow,” Pettitte said.
“I’m not going to lie to you guys, I was gassed tonight,” he said.
Even so, quite a run that Handy Andy has been on for quite a while.
Hoping to add a fifth championship ring, Pettitte earned his 17th postseason win and evened his Series record at 4-4. He overcame a rare, bases-loaded walk, worked around early trouble and left after the sixth inning with a 6-4 lead.
Pettitte was at his best against Chase Utley and Ryan Howard — the Phillies’ big boppers were hitless in six at-bats against Pettitte, striking out four times.
“He closed off our left-handed hitters,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Imagine that: Pettitte got more hits than Howard and Utley combined in Game 3, and now has as many hits as teammate Alex Rodriguez in the whole Series.
“Well, we saw him get a hit in interleague, and that is now his third World Series hit,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He let me know that he had one off of Kevin Brown and one off of Randy Johnson, and now he has one off of Cole Hamels. Andy works very hard, and I think playing in the National League for those few years probably helped his swing a little bit.”
The stats, however, show that Pettitte was only 1 for 13 in World Series play before he picked on a curveball and drove in Nick Swisher from second base with a single, tying it at 3.
“Runners in scoring position, I’m going to be a little bit more aggressive,” said Pettitte, who played three seasons with Houston in the NL before returning to the Yankees. “I wasn’t taking. I just saw a ball up in the zone, so I’m not trying to hit a home run, I’m trying to slap the ball around, and fortunately enough I got a ball up in the zone, and I was able to slap it back up the middle.”
The game was delayed by rain for nearly 1½ hours at the beginning and Pettitte got off to a rugged start. He escaped a jam in the first inning, and Jayson Werth’s homer highlighted the Phillies’ three-run second.
Batting from the left side, Pettitte grounded out weakly in the third. Then, things started to turn around for him and the Yankees.
“I’ve had a lot of rain delays this year already, and I feel like I’ve been pitching in a lot of rain. But it affected me a little bit today,” he said. “It never really felt like it fell really good in place.
“I can’t remember winning a game where I’ve struggled like I did tonight,” he said.
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