Pettitte's flawless pitching pulls New York even with Fish

Posted: Monday, October 20, 2003

NEW YORK The Face of October showed up and shut down the Florida Marlins, silencing all their talk about wreaking havoc in this World Series.

With his cap pulled down low and shadowing his dark eyes, Andy Pettitte pitched neatly into the ninth inning and drew the New York Yankees even with a 6-1 win in Game 2 Sunday night.

Pitching on three days' rest, Pettitte got a little pregame encouragement from Roger Clemens.

''He said, 'This is what we worked all year for. You got to go out strong like a horse tonight,''' Pettitte said.

He came out strong, all right, and his teammates came out slugging, a take-that response to a Marlins' team intent on using its speed to cause trouble.

Hideki Matsui delivered the big hit the Yankee Stadium crowd was waiting for, a three-run homer in the first inning on a 3-0 count. Slumping Alfonso Soriano later added a two-run drive.

Those shots seemed to revive a Yankees team that looked sluggish in losing the opener 3-2. And they were plenty for Pettitte, who tied John Smoltz's postseason record of 13 victories.

''We talked about it all along. Pitching is going to win this Series,'' Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.

Pettitte nearly recorded his first postseason shutout in 29 starts. Third baseman Aaron Boone's second error of the game, a two-out misplay in the ninth, set up Derrek Lee's RBI single.

At that point, manager Joe Torre pulled Pettitte, who waved his cap as he got a standing ovation from the 55,750 fans chanting his name.

Pettitte gave up six hits, struck out seven, walked one and did not permit a runner past second base until the last inning. Jose Contreras relieved and got the final out.

''I was missing a little bit, kind of fighting myself a little bit trying to figure out what kind of game I wanted to pitch on three days' rest,'' Pettitte said of the first inning.

Pettitte is a familiar if not frightening figure on the mound, and once again his timing was impeccable.

The Yankees also lost the openers in their playoff series against Minnesota and Boston this year before Pettitte won Game 2.

''For people to say 'There is no pressure' or 'This guy doesn't feel pressure,' I don't believe it,'' Torre said. ''It's a matter of how you handle it.''

Now, the Series shifts to Pro Player Stadium for Game 3 on Tuesday night. Marlins ace Josh Beckett will start against Mike Mussina.

Pettitte improved to 13-7 lifetime in the postseason, and never let the Marlins threaten. Catcher Jorge Posada threw out Luis Castillo trying to steal in the first inning, and the Yankees got a lucky break when a ball that deflected off Miguel Cabrera's leg was called fair and turned into a double play.

Not that the Yankees needed much help to beat Mark Redman on this night. Pettitte's complete game also allowed New York to give ace closer Mariano Rivera another day of rest.

Nick Johnson helped out with three hits for the Yankees. He may not get to play again for a bit, as the Yankees will lose the designated hitter at Miami, with Jason Giambi likely to move back to first base.

Boone is certainly learning how fast fortunes change in the Bronx he was hailed as a hero after his 11th-inning homer won Game 7 of the ALCS, but was criticized for failing to throw home in a key spot Saturday night.

Matsui's homer came after Giambi was hit by a pitch with two outs and Bernie Williams singled.

Matsui became the first Japanese player to homer in a World Series, getting the green light on the 3-0 count and hitting a no-doubt drive over the wall in center field. The crowd kept cheering until he came out for a curtain call.

When Matsui trotted out to left field after the inning, the fans in the bleachers gave him another standing ovation. Williams tipped his cap from center field and Matsui returned the favor.

New York hitters were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the opener. Matsui got the Yankees going in the right direction.

''I don't know what happened yesterday,'' Torre said.

Juan Rivera, platooning with right fielder Karim Garcia, hit an RBI double in the second that made it 4-0. He drove in Johnson, who beat out a surprise bunt, but tried to stretch the hit into a triple and was cut down on a snap throw by catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

Redman was pulled when the Yankees threatened again in the third. He had gotten no-decisions in his other three postseason starts this year, and was pulled from Game 7 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field after only three innings.

Soriano homered off Rick Helling in the fourth, launching a shot far over the left-field fence after another single by Johnson.

Soriano had been just 5-for-36 with 13 strikeouts since the start of the ALCS against Boston. He drew a leadoff walk in the first but was picked off by Redman, and struck out the next inning.

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