After Luis Vizcaino allowed Jerry Hairston's tying homer, Hideki Matsui hit a go-ahead double in eighth inning that led the Yankees over the Texas Rangers 4-3 Thursday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
"Every win that you're trying to get, especially at this stage of my career, I feel like is precious," said 34-year-old Pettitte, 1-1 in six starts. "So, obviously, you hate to see them lost. But this was a lot easier to swallow because we won."
New York, struggling with a rotation depleted by injuries and a bullpen worn down by overuse, has blown eight save chances this year overall.
"That was a huge game for us," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Especially on the road to come back like that."
Pettitte handed over a 3-2 lead to the bullpen after allowing two runs and five hits in six innings with five strikeouts. In his previous start, on April 27, Pettitte gave up five earned runs in an 11-4 loss to Boston. He also turned over leads to the bullpen on April 15 and 20 only to have Mariano Rivera fail to hold them.
Pettitte didn't feel ready after warming up in the bullpen.
"It was another struggle for me," he said. "I was battling myself mechanically again. Wish I could have gone deeper in the game, but we got a win, and that's the big thing."
Vizcaino (2-1), who has a 5.63 ERA, gave up a homer to his second batter. It wasn't enough for the last-place Rangers, who lost their fourth straight.
"We had our opportunities," said Michael Young, who was 0-for-5 and lined into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the second.
Derek Jeter reached against Joaquin Benoit (0-1) leading off the eighth on an infield single that extended his hitting streak to 19 games. Bobby Abreu, in a 3-for-40 slide, struck out and Jeter advanced on a wild pitch - after he was nearly picked off but was safe because first baseman Mark Teixeira dropped the ball for an error.
After Alex Rodriguez grounded out, Texas intentionally walked Jason Giambi to pitch to Matsui, who doubled deep to right-center. Giambi hesitated twice on the basepaths and was throw out at the plate.
Giambi said he began to cramping up after rounding second but was OK. He also homered in the fourth, and said he felt more in the game because he was playing first base for the second time this year.
"We've gone through some tough stretches, but the one thing I felt that this year is we've never really gave in," Giambi said.
Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save in four chances, giving the Yankees (11-14) consecutive wins after a stretch of eight losses in nine games that caused owner George Steinbrenner to consider firing Torre.
In the rain-delayed second game of the doubleheader, Mike Mussina came off the disabled list after recovering from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him since April 11. The Yankees placed Phil Hughes on the DL before the game, two days after he became the fourth New York player to injure a hamstring. On Wednesday, the Yankees fired strength and conditioning coach Marty Miller.
Texas, too, has injury issues -- scheduled starter Kevin Millwood was scratched with a mild left hamstring strain and replaced by Mike Wood, who allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.
"Mike kept us in the game," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He did great. He had his ball sinking and threw his breaking ball. He pitched."
- The Yankees recalled RHP Chris Britton before the opener, then optioned him to Triple-A Scranton between games so they could activate Mussina.
- Millwood is expected to return to the rotation when the Rangers visit the Yankees from May 8-10.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman said RHP Carl Pavano (forearm) is trying to schedule an exam with Dr. James Andrews. Pavano hasn't pitched since April 9.
- The Yankees have won nine straight games on the road against Texas.
- DH Sosa's fifth-inning double was his 1,000th extra base hit.