- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2008

BALTIMORE - Desperate to escape last place and avert a three-game sweep, the New York Yankees called upon Andy Pettitte to work his usual magic against the Baltimore Orioles.

Voila!

Reaching deep into his bag of tricks, Pettitte combined efficient pitching with his masterful pickoff move to carry the Yankees to a 4-2 victory last night.

Jason Giambi, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera served as capable helpers to Pettitte (5-5), who gave up two runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 24-6 lifetime against the Orioles. The left-hander is 15-4 in Baltimore, by far the winningest visiting pitcher in Camden Yards history.

“I have had a lot of opportunities to pitch against these guys, and I have always been able to handle them for some reason. I’ve had a lot of horrible games here, too,” Pettitte insisted, although the Orioles would be pressed to remember them.

“You’ve got to tip your cap to Pettitte. He’s pitched awfully well against us, it seems like forever,” manager Dave Trembley said.

Baltimore trailed 3-2 in the fifth when Brian Roberts led off with a double. He was then caught leaning too far off second and tagged out in a rundown. That proved costly because Melvin Mora followed with a walk and took third on a double by Nick Markakis before Kevin Millar flied out.

“Yeah, that was big,” Pettitte said of the move that eliminated Roberts from the basepaths.

Chamberlain struck out three and allowed one hit in 1 1/3 innings before Rivera got three outs for his 13th save in 13 tries.

Before the game, New York put starter Ian Kennedy (right shoulder) on the disabled list. That increased speculation that Chamberlain would join the starting rotation as soon as next week, but manager Joe Girardi insisted the hard-throwing reliever still needed to increase his endurance and strength.

Girardi spoke before the game about trying to get Chamberlain in for an extended stretch, but Pettitte scoffed at the suggestion.

“There would have been a fight there on the mound,” Pettitte said. “He was not going to go four or five innings for us. I wanted to give us seven good innings.”

Chamberlain threw 28 pitches in the game but worked hard in the bullpen before and after his performance.

“He threw 14 in the ‘pen, sat down, got up and threw 13, sat down, then came in. Then he had 28 in the game, so it was like he threw 55,” Girardi said.

Pressed to reveal Chamberlain’s status, Girardi said, “We’ll have to talk about that over the off-day. The biggest concern is how he feels [tomorrow].”

Said Chamberlain: “I am going to try and take what I have learned in the ‘pen and carry it over into the game with me.”

Johnny Damon had three hits for the Yankees after getting four in a 10-9 loss Tuesday night. Damon beat out a bases-loaded grounder to first base in the ninth when Jamie Walker was late covering the bag, an RBI single that gave New York a 4-2 lead.

Mora had three hits, including a two-run homer, and Brian Roberts also had three hits for Baltimore. But the rest of the lineup went 3-for-27.

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie (2-6) allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking none. Baltimore has scored only eight runs in the six games he has lost this year.

“If you don’t want to lose, don’t give up runs. It’s very simple,” Guthrie said.

Said Trembley: “He pitched well again. It just so happened that Pettitte pitched better.”

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