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Pettitte tosses gem as Yankees win 4-1 to tie series
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NEW YORK -- Now that's more like what New York fans expect from a postseason game at Yankee Stadium.

Andy Pettitte pitched another gem under pressure, Jason Giambi turned the boos to cheers and the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 Thursday night to even their best-of-5 AL playoff series at a game apiece.

After a sloppy loss during the day in Game 1, the Yankees got their big ballpark in the Bronx rocking with a three-run seventh inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead single off LaTroy Hawkins, and this time it was the Twins who made defensive errors that opened the door.

"Something about a night game at Yankee Stadium, I guess it comes alive out there," Pettitte said. "I could sense it. I don't usually get too emotional, I was pretty emotional out there tonight. It was a fun game."

Yankees manager Joe Torre took no chances, bringing in Mariano Rivera to pitch the final two innings for a save.

"When you take Andy Pettitte out with the kind of courage he showed tonight, it would have been tough to replace him with anybody other than Rivera. ... I don't think I can trust anybody more than I trust Andy," Torre said.

The victory came on the 25th anniversary of one of the Yankees' most famous wins -- the day Bucky Dent homered at Fenway Park to help beat Boston in a one-game playoff for the AL East title.

This win gave the Yankees the momentum heading into Game 3, but Minnesota has its home-field magic -- the Twins are 13-3 all-time in postseason games at the noisy Metrodome.

"Nobody in this clubhouse is disappointed. I think we're satisfied, very satisfied," Hawkins said.

Roger Clemens pitches Saturday afternoon for New York in what could be the final start of his Hall of Fame career. Kyle Lohse goes for Minnesota.

Twins starter Brad Radke hit Nick Johnson -- stuck in an 0-for-22 slump -- with a 1-2 pitch leading off the seventh.

"Do anything to get on toward the end of the game," Radke said. "Tip your hat to him, took one for the team."

Juan Rivera's sacrifice moved Johnson up, and Hawkins, the winner in Game 1, entered to face Soriano. He singled sharply to left for a 2-1 lead -- Soriano's throwing error was one of several defensive miscues by New York on Tuesday.

Derek Jeter followed with a chopper back to Hawkins, who hurriedly threw high off first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz's glove for an error that left runners at second and third.

Up came Giambi, who struck out against Hawkins in Game 1 and was booed loudly throughout the first two games.

But he changed that in a New York minute, grounding a hard single up the middle through a drawn-in infield for a 4-1 lead that put the fans in a frenzy.

"I guess I went from zero to hero real quick," Giambi said. "That's the great thing about this game."

Said Jeter: "When they're booing, they're booing because they want to cheer. That was a huge hit for him."

And that was all New York needed. A well-rested Rivera came out of the bullpen for his first two-inning postseason save since Game 3 of the 2001 World Series against Arizona.

The October chill of a 52-degree night -- Soriano went out for batting practice wearing a ski cap -- helped give the game a postseason feel that was missing Tuesday.

Game 1 started at 1 p.m. ET because Fox Sports wanted the Cubs-Braves game in prime time. When New York struggled to score, an unusually quiet Yankee Stadium crowd began booing Bernie Williams, Giambi and the rest of the home team.

It was a far different setting Thursday night.

"You can't even compare it. Tonight the atmosphere was unbelievable," Jeter said.

The crowd was buzzing by the time Pettitte struck out two in the first, and two-strike singles by Soriano, Jeter and Giambi brought fans to their feet moments later. Williams' bases-loaded sacrifice fly made it 1-0.

Peering in at the plate between the web of his glove and bill of his cap, Pettitte used a tight slider to set a postseason career-high with 10 strikeouts. He allowed four hits in seven innings, improving to 11-7 in 26 postseason starts.

"We sent the right guy to the mound, no doubt about it," Giambi said.

Radke was on his game, too, minimizing the first-inning damage and retiring 10 in a row before Jorge Posada's double in the fourth. The Yankees got several singles by fighting off tough pitches, but Radke remained cool and kept them in check with a baffling change-up.

He struck out Giambi with two to end the fifth, bringing more loud boos from the crowd of 56,479.

Torii Hunter led off the fifth with his first career postseason homer. He also circled the bases Tuesday when Williams misplayed his liner to center and Soriano threw away the relay to third.

The Yankees showed their defensive flaws again -- Jeter made a throwing error in the fifth and Soriano lunged awkwardly at a single by Shannon Stewart that the second baseman could have come up with. But Pettitte got Luis Rivas with runners at the corners to end the threat.

Radke allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Knocked out by Anaheim in the first round last year, the Yankees are determined to avoid another postseason failure. Torre held a meeting before Wednesday's workout and told players to relax.

So far, it's worked.


  • David Wells will start Game 4, Torre said.
  • Pettitte, who can become a free agent after the season, might have been making his final start with the Yankees. He set a club record for postseason wins, surpassing Whitey Ford. But all of Ford's victories came in the World Series.
  • Pettitte is fourth on the career list for postseason wins behind John Smoltz (13), Tom Glavine (12) and Greg Maddux (11).


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