Pettitte, Yankees beat Marlins to even series

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 20, 2003

NEW YORK - Roger Clemens gets more credit, David Wells gets more attention and Mike Mussina gets more money.

All Andy Pettitte does is win really big games for the New York Yankees.

Pettitte did it again Sunday night, shutting down the Florida Marlins on only three days' rest for a 6-1 victory that evened the World Series at one game each.

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''As I say, Andy has been under the radar in the eight years I've been here,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ''There's always been somebody. David Cone was here, Clemens came aboard, Boomer.

''There's always been someone that probably was a little more high-profile than Andy. He sort of likes it that way.''

But over the years, Pettitte has become the Face of October.

With the bill of his cap pulled down low to shadow his dark eyes and his glove held high, Pettitte tied John Smoltz's postseason record of 13 victories.

Inspiration came from his mentor, Clemens.

''I was inside the clubhouse before game talking to Rog a little bit. He said, 'This is what we worked all year for. You got to go out strong like a horse tonight,''' Pettitte said.

He did, all right, pitching shutout ball until a two-out error in the ninth inning set up Derrek Lee's RBI single. Pettitte's 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.

''I don't know how much better his stuff can be than tonight,'' Marlins leadoff man Juan Pierre said. ''But if it is, I don't want to see it.''

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

''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 led to Lee's RBI single.

At that point, 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, referring to the first inning.

Once again, Pettitte's 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.''

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 deep start 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 because the Yankees will lose the designated hitter in Miami, with Jason Giambi taking over at 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.

''I'm just taking the same mental approach I did during the regular season,'' Matsui said through a translator.

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.

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.

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.