Always clutch for Yankees, Andy Pettitte ties Lefty Gomez on Bombers’ wins list

Who knew that the Yankees would somehow discover the fountain of youth during spring training? All those old, creaky guys — Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Andy Pettitte — were supposed to be gasping and wheezing through the dog days of August.But a funny thing has happened on the way to the home for old ballplayers. Those aged Yankees seem rejuvenated.Jeter is having the kind of year that has him in the MVP conversation. Posada, who turned 38 on Aug. 17, was supposed to be limited because of his surgically repaired shoulder. But he has played 79 games behind the plate and smashed a three-run homer to left center in the second inning of a 9-2 victory over Texas last night at Yankee Stadium.Damon, with 22 homers, and Matsui, with 23, have created a debate as to which one the Yankees should bring back next year.As the Yankees make their steady march to the playoffs, the old guys are leading the parade.That brings us to Pettitte, the 37-year-old lefty who is on his second tour of duty with the Yankees. It was fitting last night that the veteran Pettitte would tie Lefty Gomez for third place on the Yankees’ all-time wins list (189). Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231) await. It is an impressive plateau that Pettitte has quietly reached.“Andy has never been a guy who looked for the spotlight,” Joe Girardi said. “He just goes out and does his work. He’s going to give you everything he’s got every night.”Pettitte (11-6) matched Gomez with a sharp outing against the Rangers, giving up five hits and two runs (one a home run) over seven innings.When Pettitte left the game, the Yankees had a 4-2 lead and scored five more runs in the bottom of the seventh to push the edge to 9-2. Pettitte and the Yankees’ bullpen shut down the potent Rangers.Pettitte said he was sitting at home watching the Little League World Series when he saw the scroll across the bottom of the screen about his Continue Reading

New York Yankees beat Los Angeles Angels in 13-inning classic, take commanding 2-0 ALCS lead

It was fitting that Yogi Berra was in attendance at Saturday night's game, as the Yankees experienced deja vu all over again. Eight days after Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira combined for a memorable, extra-inning playoff win, A-Rod and Melky Cabrera treated Yankee Stadium to another dramatic comeback victory in Game 2 of the ALCS. Two innings after A-Rod's leadoff homer off Brian Fuentes tied the game, the Yankees walked off with a 4-3 win over the Angels in the 13th when Maicer Izturis threw away Cabrera's ground ball as the Angels tried to force out Robinson Cano at second base. The game lasted five hours and 10 minutes. The Yankees now head to the West Coast with a commanding 2-0 lead, as the best-of-seven series shifts to Anaheim for Game 3 tomorrow afternoon. Andy Pettitte gets the start for the Yankees, while Jered Weaver takes the ball for the Angels.Joe Girardi said, "but I am going to sleep well on the plane." A.J. Burnett may not have factored into the decision, but he was in his familiar spot after the game, delivering a whipped cream pie in Jerry Hairston's face after the Yankee reserve opened the inning with a single and scored the game-winner. Hairston, pinch-hitting for Freddy Guzman, led off the 13th with a single to center off Ervin Santana. Brett Gardner bunted Hairston to second, then Santana intentionally walked Cano to put runners at first and second. Cabrera, who had three walkoff hits during the season, hit a grounder into the hole at second, where Izturis fielded it and tried to get the force at second base. But Izturis' throw was wide of shortstop Erick Aybar, allowing Hairston to score the winning run. After stranding the winning run at third base in the ninth, the Yankees nearly got a huge break in the 10th, as Aybar never touched second base on a potential double play, putting the winning run at second base with one out. But neither Johnny Damon nor Teixeira could drive in the game-winner, giving the Angels another crack Continue Reading

Billy Wagner blows lead in 9th inning, Mets fall to Astros 5-4 in 10th

HOUSTON - Billy Wagner started the Mets' latest late-inning trouble, then Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano finished it.After Wagner coughed up a two-run lead in the ninth inning, Heilman couldn't retire a batter in the 10th and Feliciano allowed the decisive run to score as the Mets lost to the Astros, 5-4, Saturday night, falling back into third place in the NL East.Wagner blew his seventh save in 34 chances by failing to protect a two-run lead in the ninth. In addition to the game, the Mets also lost Ramon Castro with a sprained right ankle as Johan Santana again was deprived of a victory in a solid start."We had it in a good position," Jerry Manuel said. "We just gave it up tonight."Asked to preserve a 4-2 lead, Wagner surrendered a two-run single to pinch-hitter Geoff Blum with the bases loaded for the blown save - his first since July 6 at Philadelphia, when he surrendered a two-run homer to Jayson Werth.Heilman (1-6), who had given up a decisive grand slam to Mark Loretta in the eighth inning on Friday night, issued a walk to Lance Berkman leading off the 10th, then a single to center by Carlos Lee that sent Berkman to third carrying the winning run. It also sent Manuel to the mound to call on Feliciano.The lefty struck out Michael Bourn, then issued an intentional walk to Hunter Pence to set up a lefty-lefty matchup with Darin Erstad. On a 3-2 pitch, the veteran sent a liner into left field that Fernando Tatis caught, but since he had to dive for it, Berkman was able to score easily.Manuel thought an experienced outfielder might have been able to stay on his feet on Erstad's sinking liner, but Tatis - a converted infielder - dove headfirst and was helpless to throw out Berkman."We probably have two 'outfielders' - Chavy and Carlos," Manuel said, referring to Endy Chavez and Carlos Beltran. "Am I right? You have to put 'em somewhere, and Tatis has played well."Said Tatis: "It was a tough play. It's one of the hardest balls to catch in the outfield - a line Continue Reading

Bullpen blows lead for Johan Santana as Marlins beat Mets in rubber game

Jerry Manuel sent a clear message about which backup catcher he would prefer to keep when Brian Schneider returns from the disabled list. Of course, did it matter who served as first mate on the Titanic?Late-game drama - and, no, that's not referring to the Mets loading the bases with two out in the ninth - worsened a wedge between Ramon Castro and his manager and the Mets wasted another solid performance by Johan Santana in a 4-3 home loss to Florida Wednesday. But the Castro-Manuel soap opera was just one of many storylines Wednesday. David Wright was booed again at Citi Field after another dismal performance in the field and at the plate - the final insult a rally-killing strikeout (his 27th of the season) in the ninth. And then there was the revamped bullpen failing for the second straight day, allowing the first-place Marlins to take two of three in a series the Mets could have swept. Wednesday's bullpen culprit was J.J. Putz, who failed to protect a one-run lead inherited from Santana when the two runners he walked to start the eighth scored on Cody Ross' single. The late-game meltdown dropped the Mets to 9-12 heading into a three-game series in Philadelphia that begins tomorrow, and ought to have looked familiar to Santana. Seven times last season he turned a lead over to the bullpen and came away with no-decisions, arguably denying the ace the Cy Young Award. Wednesday's eventful ending: With the bases loaded and two out in the ninth, a delay ensued as the Mets scrambled to send a pinch-hitter to the plate for Castro. No, it wasn't slugger Carlos Delgado or Luis Castillo (both sidelined with injuries), instead, a stung and stunned Castro was replaced by recent call-up Omir Santos, who had 35 career at-bats on his résumé. Santos had been catching Bobby Parnell in the bullpen at the time. He scrambled down a corridor in his spikes, took six or seven practice swings en route, then popped out to shortstop. Manuel reasoned that Santos was more equipped Continue Reading

Billy Wagner is the goat, can’t hold lead for National League in 8th

Make it seven blown saves for Billy Wagner. At least the Mets closer still has a presidential appointment Wednesday. Asked to protect the National League's 3-2 lead when he replaced Giants closer Brian Wilson with two out in the eighth inning Tuesday night to face the lefty-hitting Grady Sizemore, Wagner gave up a single. Sizemore then swiped second, and pinch-hitter Evan Longoria drove him in with a ground-rule double to left field. Wagner completed his outing by getting Justin Morneau on a tapper he fielded and tagged first himself. "I made some good pitches," Wagner said. "I have no problem whatsoever with how I pitched. It didn't work out my way." It wasn't a banner All-Star Game for the Mets' contingent, as David Wright struck out twice before getting a broken-bat single in the 13th off Baltimore's George Sherrill and walking against Scott Kazmir in the 15th. In the eighth, Wright was in the on-deck circle as a pinch-hitter for DH Albert Pujols when Miguel Tejada scored the NL's go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez. He then struck out on three pitches against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Wright fanned against Kansas City's Joakim Soria in the 11th. Still, Wagner is due at the White House tonight to talk baseball with President Bush. Wagner's former employer, Astros owner Drayton McLane, has ties to the Bush family. Wagner, who turns 37 in nine days, was the oldest player on the NL squad. Wagner, in uniform, went to a store inside Yankee Stadium a few hours before last night's game and bought 60 hats and 60 All-Star shirts for his Mets teammates. He laughed that there was no controversy between him and Phillies closer Brad Lidge about who might get the final inning for the National League, compared with the furor over whether Mariano Rivera or Papelbon should have received that responsibility on the AL side. Lidge and Wagner, former teammates with the Astros, remain very close. They even trade scouting reports, despite Continue Reading


FOR ALMOST THREE weeks, as he recovered from his appendectomy, all Xavier Nady could do was watch Lastings Milledge take his roster spot and get his feet wet with his first big-league experience. He had to endure a glorious 9-1 road trip through Los Angeles, Arizona and Philadelphia as the Mets began to make a mockery of the NL East race. But last night, two days after he was activated from the disabled list, Nady finally got his chance to contribute again. Nady delivered a pair of home runs - a two-run shot in the seventh followed by a solo blast in the eighth - to help the Mets beat the Reds, 9-2, before 38,991 at Shea. It was Nady's second career multihomer game. "It's fun just to be running back out there and being healthy," Nady said. "It's not that fun sitting on a couch. Sitting at home wondering when you're going to get back out." After going 0-for-4 in his first game back Monday night, Nady lined out and grounded into a double play his first two times up last night. But the third time up - and the fourth - proved to be the charm. His first homer, into the last row of the bleachers off Reds reliever David Weathers, gave the Mets a 6-2 lead, before he tagged a 1-1 slider from Todd Coffey in the eighth inning to close out the Mets' scoring. Willie Randolph, for one, was happy with Nady's big night. "He's been doing that all year," Randolph said. "He's gotten some big hits for us. It's good to see him going again and get him back in the lineup. It's a real luxury to have a guy like that in the seventh spot who can hit the ball out of the ballpark like that." Nady's return - coupled with the return shortly of Cliff Floyd - means the Mets' starting outfield is returning to health. It also means Milledge eventually will be ticketed back to Norfolk. But he remains hopeful that somehow he will remain with the big club even after Floyd comes back. "I don't believe in the numbers thing," said Milledge, who went 1-for-4 with a run scored last night. "I Continue Reading

CARTER & NETS SET OWN PACE. Overtake Indiana, assume series lead

ANOTHER CAGE MATCH-LIKE contest between the Nets and Pacers was winding down to the final seconds. And Vince Carter, who has largely been the difference in the Nets' wins and losses, had the ball and was tired of settling for outside jumpers. With the Nets clinging to a three-point lead, Carter blew by rookie Danny Granger on the left wing and soared in to dunk as Jermaine O'Neal watched from beneath. Carter's lefthanded jam effectively slammed the door on the Pacers in Game 5, propelling the Nets to a 92-86 win last night in Game 5 at the Meadowlands. Carter's jam punctuated a 34-point, 15-rebound and seven-assist night as the Nets took a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series. They will try to finish it in Game 6 tomorrow in Indiana. In NBA history, teams that have won Game 5 in a best-of-seven series have advanced 83.6% of the time. Richard Jefferson scored 24 points, Nenad Krstic posted 19 and 11 rebounds and Jason Kidd added 15 assists. O'Neal had 19 points and seven rebounds while managing to stay out of serious foul trouble. But as has been the story all season, Indiana played shorthanded. Peja Stojakovic missed his second straight game and third in the series with a knee injury that could keep him out of the remainder of the first round. Jamaal Tinsley missed his fourth game of the series with an Achilles injury and starting center Jeff Foster was added to the injured list with a back ailment. On top of all of that, O'Neal played with flu-like symptoms. Of course, Lawrence Frank still made it sound like the Nets were facing the best team in the league. "They're a good team!" the Nets coach said. "They're the deepest team in the league. So it's hard. Sometimes it's a struggle." Frank was right about one thing. The Pacers have a way of making things tough for the Nets. And that was true in the first half, when the Nets led by 11 but couldn't put the decimated Pacers away. Despite Carter totaling 19 points, eight rebounds and six Continue Reading


WASHINGTON - Mariano Rivera turned and watched Jorge Posada's throw skip into left field, rolling on the grass as Alfonso Soriano trotted home. Rivera dropped his head. He had been called on to try and salvage the afternoon for the Yankees, but instead became the final piece in what was surely the Yankees worst day of the season. Posada's eighth-inning overthrow of third base allowed Soriano to trot home with the tying run. Rivera then walked Daryl Ward and, and after Jose Guillen's RBI triple gave the Nationals the lead, the Yanks were doomed to an 11-9 loss in a game they once led by seven runs. At one point, hours earlier, it seemed like this day would be remembered for a three-homer explosion in the fifth inning started by Alex Rodriguez's monstrous solo shot and capped by Johnny Damon's grand slam; rather, it will be remembered for the Bombers' total meltdown. Rivera took the loss after Joe Torre called for him with the Yanks clinging to a 9-8 lead and one out in the eighth inning, the second straight day he would be asked to get the final five outs of the game. Scott Proctor had left Soriano on first base, and the former Yankee easily stole second then took off for third. Posada's throw was wide and Soriano scored to level the game at 9. The Bombers pitching problems began with starter Shawn Chacon, who threw 100 pitches and was handed a 9-2 lead after A-Rod, Posada and Damon went deep in the fifth, but only lasted 41/3 innings. He was charged with six runs and six hits. Chacon's outing was particularly discouraging for the Yankees and provided the second reminder of the day that this isn't last season anymore. A year ago, the Bombers were saved when Chacon and Aaron Small emerged to patch the Yankees' injury-riddled rotation and the duo ended up combining to win 17 games for the Bombers. But shortly before noon yesterday Small was called into Torre's office and told he was being designated for assignment to make room for minor-league call-up T.J. Continue Reading

Alex Rodriguez hits home run, passes Willie Mays for sole possession of fourth place on career list

Alex Rodriguez passed Willie Mays for sole possession of fourth-place on Major League Baseball’s home run list on Thursday night. Rodriguez hit career homer No. 661, a solo shot, out to left center field in the third inning to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. It came on a 1-and-1 pitch from Orioles' Chris Tillman. The Yankee stadium crowd cheered him until he came out for a curtain call. In the first inning Rodriguez got robbed of a home run in right field when Delmon Young jumped up and caught a ball that was headed out. Next up on the list is Babe Ruth at 714. If Rodriguez could maintain the pace he’s on so far this season, that could happen next year. A-Rod tied Mays last Friday with a blast off Boston’s Junichi Tazawa over the Green Monster at Fenway Park. That home run could potentially touch off a dispute between the slugger and the Yankees. When the Bombers signed Rodriguez to a 10-year deal in 2007 there also was a marketing agreement they entered that could pay up to five $6 million bonuses as the club marketed his opportunities to pass people on the home run list. The Yankees, as the Daily News first reported in January, don’t intend to pay the bonus because the club feels the milestone home run was not marketable after A-Rod served a season-long drug suspension in 2014. At no time has any member of ownership or the front office referred to the home run as significant, either before or after it happened. Continue Reading

Colorado Avalanche beat Devils 2-1 on Jarome Iginla’s goal

DENVER (AP) — Jarome Iginla scored in the second period and got the decisive goal in the shootout, Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots and the Colorado Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Thursday night. The Avs are now 1-1 on a pivotal three-game homestand as they try to remain in the playoff picture. Andy Greene scored the lone goal in regulation for the Devils and Cory Schneider made 28 saves. Varlamov recently tweaked his groin and sat out against Los Angeles on Tuesday, snapping his streak of 22 straight starts. The injury didn’t appear to slow him down, especially in the shootout when he stopped two of three shooters, including Patrik Elias to seal the win. Ryan O’Reilly also scored in the shootout for Colorado. Jacob Josefson was the only one to beat Varlamov in the shootout. Schneider and Varlamov traded fantastic saves in overtime. Schneider came up big by stopping Alex Tanguay’s breakaway opportunity. Moments later, Varlamov made a glove save on a shot by Jon Merrill. Colorado went on a power play for the final 26.1 seconds after Eric Gelinas was called for a trip, but couldn’t get anything past Schneider. Schneider turned in quite a save with the Avalanche on a power play midway through the third period. Gabriel Landeskog worked his way down low and backhanded a shot into Schneider’s chest. Schneider entered the game leading all goaltenders in shots against and saves. Iginla gave Colorado the lead at 2:27 of the second when he gobbled up a loose puck in front of the net and lifted a shot over Schneider. It was Iginla’s 582nd career goal in his 1,378th NHL game, which ties him with Joe Sakic, Vincent Damphousse and Dean Prentice for 40th place on the NHL’s all-time games played list. The lead didn’t last as Greene tied the game at 14:12 when he lined a shot from the blue line. The puck was heading wide of the net, but appeared to hit Continue Reading