April 5, 2013

Pettitte, Rivera frustrate Red Sox

After dropping their first two games to Boston, the Yankees finally get into the win column.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Andy Pettitte pitched the Yankees to their first win of the season and Mariano Rivera made a successful return to the mound in New York's 4-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

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New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, left, reacts after tagging out Boston Red Sox Shane Victorino, right, who was trying to score on a wild pitch in the first inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York on Thursday.

The Associated Press

FRIDAY’S GAME

WHO: Red Sox (Doubront) at Blue Jays (Josh Johnson)

WHEN: 7:07 p.m.

TELEVISION: NESN

Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli homered for the Yankees, providing some unexpected power to a depleted lineup missing the "sore four" – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. All those All-Stars are on the disabled list, and without them New York dropped its first two games at home to the rival Red Sox.

Gardner and Cervelli each hit a solo shot, the first homer for both since they went back-to-back off Baltimore's Tommy Hunter on Sept. 6, 2011. Neither player spent much time on the active big league roster last season.

Lyle Overbay had a two-run single off Ryan Dempster (0-1), who struck out eight in his Boston debut but needed 101 pitches to get through five innings. The two-time All-Star signed a $26.5 million, two-year contract in December after spending last season with the Cubs and Rangers.

Pettitte (1-0) tossed eight sharp innings on a chilly night and Rivera entered to a standing ovation from those left in the bundled-up crowd of 40,611 as the familiar chords of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blared over the Yankee Stadium speakers.

Baseball's career saves leader, set to retire after this season, missed most of last year after tearing a knee ligament May 3 while shagging flies during batting practice in Kansas City.

Rivera issued a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia and gave up a one-out double to Jonny Gomes before Will Middlebrooks drove in a run with a groundout. But the right-hander threw a called third strike past rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. for his 609th save and first since April 30 last year at Baltimore.

It was the 69th time Rivera has saved a win by Pettitte, a major league record. And by appearing in his 19th Yankees season, Rivera broke a tie with Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Jeter to set the franchise mark. Jeter will match Rivera again when the captain makes his season debut.

With fans chanting his name, Pettitte got through the eighth inning and pumped his fist before heading into the dugout for good.

Backed by three double plays — one that he started himself — the 40-year-old lefty allowed one only run and eight hits. He threw 94 efficient pitches and gave the New York pitching staff a huge boost after Hiroki Kuroda was pulled in the second inning Wednesday night with a bruised middle finger.

Looking for their first season-opening sweep at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox managed only Bradley's run-scoring double in the seventh.

Pettitte, beginning his 15th season with the Yankees, earned his 246th career win and improved to 19-10 in 38 starts against Boston. He missed almost three months last season with a broken left ankle and finished 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA.

Eduardo Nunez, often a defensive liability, turned two double plays at shortstop and made a leaping grab to rob Shane Victorino of a leadoff hit in the fourth. Nunez also had two hits, including a key double.

Pettitte looked perfectly comfortable out there on a 43-degree night. He blew on his pitching hand to warm it up, but never struggled to throw strikes and had a good enough grip to command his breaking ball.

(Continued on page 2)

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