Pettitte Wins Seventh Straight Aganst Orioles

Andy Pettitte (12-6) won his seventh straight decision on Wednesday, as he led the Yankees to a 4-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The Yanks finally got through to Baltimore starter Rick Helling in the sixth inning, putting up three runs to take the lead and give the Yankees the first game of the two-game series.

Helling (6-7) held down the Yankees for the first five innings, allowing just three hits. In the sixth though, the Yankees starting plugging away and manufacturing runs. Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a single and stole second. Derek Jeter slapped a single to left that scored Soriano and tied the game at one.

With one out and two on, Hideki Matsui chopped a grounder up the middle to give the Yankees the lead for good. Robin Ventura – who had two hits to apparently snap his prolonged slump – drove in a third run with a single through the right side.

With one out in the third inning, Raul Mondesi got into a Helling pitch and drove it to deep left field. Melvin Mora backed up and made a spectacular catch at the wall to rob Mondesi of a homerun. In the seventh however, Mondesi hit another shot to deep left that Mora couldn't get to in time, and the solo homerun put the Yanks up 4-1.

Mora wasn't the only Oriole making spectacular plays in the field. Jay Gibbons robbed Bernie Williams of extra bases with a catch up against the right-field wall in the in the fourth. Third baseman Tony Batista flashed some leather of his own, taking away a hit from Alfonso Soriano in the seventh with a lunging stab to his right.

At the plate however, the Orioles couldn't do anything against Andy Pettitte. The lefty dominated the O's for seven innings, allowing just two runs on five hits and a pair of walks. He also struck out six batters. A Deivi Cruz homerun to lead off the eighth chased Pettitte from the game, but Armando Benitez came on to keep the lead at two for the Yankees.

Mariano Rivera came on to close the game out in the ninth and allowed a soft single before getting Gibbons to ground into a double play to end the game. With the performance, Rivera earned his 19th save of the year.

Helling was charged with the loss after allowing four runs on nine hits over seven innings. He struck out six without issuing a walk.

Pettitte became the first pitcher in over 75 years to win at least twelve games in each of his first nine seasons. Stan Coveleski was the last pitcher to accomplish that feat, doing it for the Cleveland Indians from 1916 to 1926.

The second game of the two-game set will be on Thursday at 1:05 pm. Roger Clemens (9-6, 3.79) will take the mound for the Yankees, looking for his tenth win of the year. Baltimore will send their ace, Sidney Ponson (13-5, 3.67), out to face the Bombers. After the game, the Yankees will pick up and head to Boston for a three-game series at Fenway.

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