Andy Pettitte threw 7 1/3 strong innings to become just the third player to earn 200 wins in pinstripes, beating his hometown Houston Astros, 4-3.

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Initial Reaction:

Pettitte gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs while striking out four in 7 1/3, improving to 8-1 on the year. Andy joins Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231) as Yankees’ 200-game winners.

The Yankees jumped on Houston starter Brett Myers early with three runs in the first inning, giving Pettitte plenty of breathing room. Nick Swisher worked a bases-loaded walk and Francisco Cervelli hit a two-out, two-run single in the first inning. Mark Teixeira added an RBI in the fifth, on another two-out single, which turned out to be the game-winning run.

Houston answered against Pettitte in the second inning, as Tommy Manzella connected for a two-run double down the left field line. Derek Jeter’s error on a potential double-play ball led to Houston’s third run in the eighth inning, when Jeff Keppinger hit a sacrifice fly off of Joba Chamberlain. A one-run lead was enough for Mariano Rivera, as the Astros went down 1-2-3 to close out the game.

Positives From The Game:

Andy Automatic: You could make the argument that Pettitte is having the best start of any season in his career, of what should be a Hall of Fame career when he calls it quits. This year it’s been almost automatic that he’ll give the Yanks a great start, and he turned in yet another strong outing tonight: 7 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Starter in the All-Star Game, anyone?

Jump On It: Before Pettitte could take the mound for the top of the second, the Yanks had given him a three-run cushion. Jumping on Brett Myers for three early runs is all gravy. Andy gave up two runs in the second, but shut Houston down from there.

3-for-7: The Yankees went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with one hit apiece from Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Francisco Cervelli.

Negatives From The Game:

Top Of The 8th: A leadoff single was followed by Jeter’s error on a double play ball. After a sacrifice bunt, the Astros had second and third and one away. Joba relieved Pettitte, and after a sac fly made it a one-run game, I started biting my nails. But, with a runner on third, Joba sent “The Big Puma” Lance Berkman down swinging, and all was well in the Bronx.

Interesting Facts:

Pettitte reached another milestone in the game. A first-inning flyout clicked Pettitte’s odometer to 3,000 career innings pitched, putting him with Philadelphia’s Jamie Moyer as the only active pitchers with 3,000 career innings.

Pettitte threw 19 first-pitch strikes to the 28 batters he faced.

After tonight’s start, Pettitte is 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last four games.

Over his last four games, Mark Teixeira has gone 7-for-15, with 4 runs scored and 3 RBI.

Quote Of The Night:

Lance Berkman, close friends with Andy Pettitte after their three seasons as teammates in Houston: “It’s like facing an older brother in Wiffle Ball. You’re torn because you want to do well, but you don’t want to hurt him. But then he puts his glove over his face and it’s like facing Darth Vader.”

What’s Next?:

The Yankees look to win their series against Houston.

Saturday, 1:05 PM, YES: Wandy Rodriguez (3-8, 4.95 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (5-5, 5.63 ERA)

Last Start:
Rodriguez: Loss, seven innings, three earned runs, three strikeouts (at Rockies)
Vazquez: Win, seven innings, two earned runs, nine strikeouts (at Blue Jays)

Career Stats:
Rodriguez vs. NY: 0-1, 9.00 ERA (one start); he has never pitched at Yankee Stadium.
Vazquez vs. HOU: 3-5, 4.41 ERA (thirteen starts); 2-1, 5.74 ERA at home in 2010.

After striking out 193 hitters in 206 innings in 2009, Wandy Rodriguez has really struggled in 2010. He has been especially bad on the road, going 1-4 with a 5.41 ERA.