|N.Y. Yankees (89-64) «||3||0||0||1||0||0||2||0||0||6||10||0|
MINNEAPOLIS -- Andy Pettitte shrugged off another ageless performance by claiming he's still not as sharp as he wants to be.
The New York Yankees are plenty pleased by the way he's been pitching.
Pettitte threw six scoreless innings and the Yankees hit four home runs Monday to beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 and extend their AL East lead.
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"I'm happy to get through it, happy to give us a good start," Pettitte said, adding: "It's just there's definitely some room for me to improve.
The Yankees took a 1 ½-game edge over Baltimore, which split a doubleheader with Toronto. This is the first time since Sept. 2 their margin has been more than one game. According to STATS research, the 21-day stretch during which the Yankees and Orioles were separated by one game or less was the second-longest in Major League Baseball history, the most days since 1897.
"Right now I feel like everything is kind of rolling for us. It's real calm in here. It's relaxed. Guys are having a ton of fun," said Nick Swisher, who was the first to take Liam Hendriks (1-8) deep.
After playing three tense, one-run games against Oakland during the weekend, including their startling comeback for a 14-inning win on Saturday, the Yankees enjoyed an easy one for a change. This was New York's 10th victory in 12 games.
Pettitte (5-3) hasn't given up a run in 11 innings since rejoining the rotation last week. The 40-year-old threw five scoreless innings against Toronto to mark his comeback from a broken lower left leg that kept him out for almost three months.
His successful unretirement, after supposedly ending his remarkable career in 2010, has been a big help for the banged-up Yankees even though this was only his 11th start of the season.
Swisher's two-out, two-run homer in the first inning off Hendriks sailed into the seats above right-center field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Curtis Granderson's solo shot in the fourth went even higher and farther, landing in the second deck. Granderson became the fourth player in the majors to hit 40 homers this season.
In the bottom of that inning, Granderson made a postseason-worthy throw from center field after fielding a two-out single as Ryan Doumit raced from second base to home. The ball arrived just in time, and catcher Russell Martin made a quick sweep tag that grazed Doumit's shoulder a spilt-second before his hand touched the plate.
Then in the seventh, Raul Ibanez -- who is 7 for 12 with three homers in his last three games -- went deep with a drive that reached the standing room space near the gate beyond right field. Eric Chavez added one more home run against Hendriks, an opposite-field liner with one out that barely reached the flower bed in left.
"It's a good lineup. There's no breaks in it. There's no breathers," said Hendriks, who recorded his first major league win last week at Cleveland after 17 starts without one. He gave up eight hits, six runs and one walk, striking out four over 6 1/3 innings.
Those career statistics for Hendriks are a stark contrast to Pettitte, who stretched his unbeaten streak against the Twins to 12 straight starts. That dates to May 2001 and includes division series victories in 2009 and 2010.
The Yankees have had him on a pitch count in his return to help him regain strength in his legs, but he threw 88 times without any trouble. Pettitte gave up seven hits and one walk. He struck out three.
"I love this guy. There's nothing that fazes him," Swisher said, adding: "You can only just look at that and be like, `Man, I want to be like that."'
The Yankees, who've been alone in or tied for first place since June 11, started a favorable final stretch of the season, with Minnesota, Toronto and Boston left on the schedule, owners of three of the four worst records in the league. The Orioles also finish with the Blue Jays and Red Sox but must wrap up with a three-game series at Tampa Bay. The Rays still have an outside chance in the wild card chase.
So now the Yankees have what seems like a large 1 ½-game cushion, considering how close the race has been.
"I wouldn't say that," manager Joe Girardi said. "Any time you can make it bigger than it's been, it's nice."
|The Yankees' Andy Pettitte throws six shutout innings, extending his scoreless innings streak to 11 since his return. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|New York Yankees|
|Derek Jeter, SS||3||1||1||0||2||1||1||.322|
|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||5||1||1||0||0||0||2||.282|
|Alex Rodriguez, DH||5||0||1||0||0||0||5||.274|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||4||0||0||1||0||0||1||.293|
|Nick Swisher, 1B||4||1||1||2||0||1||1||.262|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||3||1||1||1||1||1||1||.231|
|Raul Ibanez, LF||4||1||2||1||0||1||1||.234|
|Chris Dickerson, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Russell Martin, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.203|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||4||1||3||1||0||1||0||.285|
|2B - Ichiro Suzuki (26, Hendriks)|
|HR - Nick Swisher (23, Hendriks), Curtis Granderson (40, Hendriks), Raul Ibanez (18, Hendriks), Eric Chavez (14, Hendriks)|
|RBI - Robinson Cano (80), Nick Swisher 2 (87), Curtis Granderson (95), Raul Ibanez (58), Eric Chavez (34)|
|2-OUT RBI - Nick Swisher 2 (29)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|Outfield Assists - Curtis Granderson 1|
|DP - Jeter-Cano-Swisher, Cano-Jeter-Swisher|
|New York Yankees|
|Andy Pettitte (W,5-3)||6||7||0||0||1||3||0||2.71|
|Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 88-53, Joba Chamberlain 11-8, Cory Wade 12-8, Justin Thomas 20-12, David Robertson 10-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 6-6, Joba Chamberlain 3-0, Cory Wade 1-1, Justin Thomas 1-0, David Robertson 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 23, Joba Chamberlain 3, Cory Wade 3, Justin Thomas 4, David Robertson 3|
|Denard Span, CF||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.289|
|Ben Revere, RF||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.292|
|Joe Mauer, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.322|
|Josh Willingham, LF||2||0||0||0||1||1||1||.260|
|Chris Herrmann, LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Justin Morneau, DH||4||1||1||0||0||1||3||.276|
|Ryan Doumit, C||3||1||1||0||1||0||3||.274|
|Trevor Plouffe, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.231|
|Jamey Carroll, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.263|
|a- Chris Parmelee, PH||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||.242|
|Pedro Florimon, SS||4||1||2||1||0||0||1||.248|
|a-tripled for Carroll in the 9th|
|2B - Ryan Doumit (33, Pettitte)|
|3B - Chris Parmelee (2, Robertson)|
|HR - Pedro Florimon (1, Wade)|
|RBI - Chris Parmelee 2 (19), Pedro Florimon (8)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chris Parmelee 2 (11)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Carroll-Florimon-Mauer|
|Liam Hendriks (L,1-8)||6.1||8||6||6||1||4||4||6.09|
|Pitches-Strikes - Liam Hendriks 92-65, Luis Perdomo 12-6, Tyler Robertson 23-13, Matt Capps 17-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Liam Hendriks 4-10, Luis Perdomo 1-1, Matt Capps 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Liam Hendriks 27, Luis Perdomo 3, Tyler Robertson 4, Matt Capps 5|
|Attendance - 33720|
|Game Time - 2:46|
|Temperature - 75|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Nauert, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Doug Eddings, Third Base - Kerwin Danley|