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Saturday, May 11, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 3, Royals 2

By Wallace Matthews

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Call off the search party. Andy Pettitte's cutter has been found, alive and well, in his left hand. Pettitte pitched his best game in nearly a month Saturday night as the Yankees beat the Royals 3-2 to maintain their hold on first place in the American League East.

What it means: That with Hiroki Kuroda, their best starter so far this season, going Sunday, the Yankees have an excellent chance of sweeping the Royals and making this a 5-1 road trip.

Ninth-inning drama: Mariano Rivera got two quick outs to start the ninth but gave up an opposite-field double just inside the right-field line to Salvador Perez and went to 3-2 against Mike Moustakas before getting him to fly out to left field to end the game for his 14th save in 14 tries.

Now that's more like it: Andy Pettitte, who hadn't won since April 19 and looked extremely hittable in his previous two starts, resembled his old self tonight, throwing seven strong innings (5H, 2R, 7Ks, 100 pitches) and making only one mistake, a cutter to Billy Butler that didn't cut and ended up in the center-field seats.

Wells struck: Vernon Wells absolutely crushed a James Shields two-seamer on a line into the bullpen in left with Chris Stewart (hit by pitch) to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The ball was so well hit that even the normally businesslike Wells lingered for a moment to watch its trip out of the park.

Mini-ball: The Yankees took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run when Royals 3B Mike Moustakas fired over the first baseman's head on Robinson Cano's routine grounder, allowing Chris Nelson (double) to score all the way from first. Then, the Royals tied the game without hitting a ball out of the infield -- Elliott Johnson dribbled a single to Pettitte's right, stole second, went to third on one groundout and scored on another.

Take that, Robbie: The fans here continue to boo Cano for leaving Billy Butler off the AL Home Run Derby squad at last year's All-Star Game, and in the fourth inning, Butler provided them with new ammunition, blasting a Pettitte fastball into the center-field seats 415 feet away to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Sure enough, when Cano came up in the next inning, the K crowd booed him louder than ever.

Eduardo Pipp? The way Jayson Nix has been playing, Eduardo Nunez better get well in a hurry. Nix, who had two hits and scored three runs Friday night, had two more hits, one of them a double, and was on base each of his first three at-bats today.

Fan-dango: David Robertson pitched a dominant eighth inning, striking out all three batters he faced, two of them looking.

What's next: Kuroda (4-2, 2.30 ERA) gets the ball for Sunday's series finale with the Royals, facing RHP Ervin Santana (3-1, 2.36), first pitch at 2:10 p.m. ET.