Girardi's quick hook on Pettitte backfires

NEW YORK -- It came down to the swings.

After veteran Andy Pettitte allowed two singles to start the seventh inning in Sunday's 7-3 loss, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had two choices with his team nursing a 3-0 lead at the time: Keep the veteran in at 93 pitches or go to his vaunted bullpen to take it home.

Girardi chose the latter, citing the previous two at-bats.

Big mistake.

"He was up in pitches, they had squared two balls up in a row, we thought it was time to make a change," Girardi said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work."

Girardi's decision to pull Pettitte backfired as the bullpen had one of its worst days, coughing up the three-run lead in a pivotal game at Yankee Stadium. The trio of Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain allowed seven runs to score before recording the second out of the frame, preventing the Yankees from earning a much-needed sweep over the Orioles. Pettitte was saddled with a no-decision after giving up two runs in six innings.

"It's not even an issue to me," Pettitte said of not being able to finish the frame. "I know Joe has all the faith in the world in our bullpen and I know Joe has faith in me also. Especially right now, you can't second-guess going to our bullpen, they've been so great. Got the best bullpen in the league as far as I'm concerned. It wasn't a good day for them."

Pettitte pitched a great game on Sunday, keeping a tough Baltimore lineup scoreless through six. Baltimore opened the seventh with singles by Michael Morse and Danny Valencia, which brought Matt Wieters, who was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts at the time, to the plate as the tying run.

The southpaw has owned Wieters during his career, as Wieters is 2-for-12 with eight strikeouts against Pettitte, and Girardi said that data was considered but didn't become the deciding factor. Girardi referenced Wieters' better numbers against lefties, and with Pettitte losing a little sharpness nearing the 100-pitch plateau the team usually keeps him to, Girardi went to the bullpen.

The veteran left to a standing ovation, and it would be the last big cheer from the packed Yankee Stadium on this day. Kelley allowed an RBI single to Wieters that sliced the lead to 3-1, and J.J. Hardy hit a three-run shot that put the Orioles ahead for good.

"It's a frustrating loss and Joe's our manager and he makes the decisions," Pettitte said. "I've got no problem with what he's doing out there."

The Yankees' bullpen entered the game with a league-best 1.05 ERA dating back to Aug. 16, but couldn't keep it going Sunday. After Hardy's three-run homer, Logan allowed a pair to reach and Adam Jones followed with a three-run shot off Chamberlain as the Orioles plated seven that inning.

"It's tough obviously," Kelley said of the loss. "Three-run lead going into the seventh, chance for a sweep against a team we're neck and neck with. It's a tough one to swallow and it's completely on me for those pitches there. I have to find a way to get Wieters out and get us in the dugout with the lead."