Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/18/12

NEW YORK -- By the eighth inning, the fans at Yankee Stadium were passionately chanting his name, no longer just out of appreciation for Andy Pettitte's past, but in gratitude for his present.

Inning after inning, Pettitte carried the New York Yankees' struggling offense, making the one early run his teammates gave him stand up for eight innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

The 39-year-old lefty, making his second start since coming out of retirement, dominated the Reds, leading the Yankees to a much-needed 4-0 victory.

The Yankees finally added some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, as Robinson Cano hit a solo homer and Raul Ibanez hit a two-run shot.

By then, after he had thrown 115 pitches, Pettitte's night was finally done, and he walked off the mound in the eighth to a large ovation, having struck out nine while allowing just four hits.

It was his first regular-season victory since July 8, 2010, which also marked the last time he had pitched at least eight innings.

"I felt good; everything was working," Pettitte said. "... I felt like I was able to do whatever I wanted to out there tonight."

Bronson Arroyo (2-2) took the loss after dueling Pettitte for most of the night, giving up just one run until allowing the three runs in the eighth.

"Both of them were dealing, and it was two outs in that eighth inning and four pitches, and next thing you know, they got three runs; that's how quickly they can strike," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

The Yankees have not been striking with runners in scoring position lately, which is why Pettitte's performance was as desperately needed as it was captivating.

The Yankees had lost four of five entering the game and had gone 3-for-41 with runners in scoring position in that span. They added a 0-for-7 mark Friday night, failing to score with the bases loaded and no one out in the sixth.

"We've been struggling and you want to put zeroes up and just get on the board," Pettitte said.

So, as the Yankees clung to their 1-0 lead after seven, with Pettitte already having thrown 106 pitches following his first start when he threw 94, Girardi approached him in the dugout.

As trainer Steve Donohue loosened up Pettite's 39-year-old muscles with a massage, Girardi asked his pitcher if he could give him another inning. Pettitte replied he thought he could, though Girardi later said it would not be the norm for him to reach 115 pitches.

"Nobody wants to be out there more than he does," said catcher Chris Stewart, whom Pettitte credited for calling a good game. "To go out there and do what he did was outstanding."

Arroyo got some help in the sixth when Alex Rodriguez, who had driven in the game's first run on a groundout, grounded into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded and no one out.

Third baseman Todd Frazier bobbled the ball, then recovered and threw home in time to get the force out, but catcher Ryan Hanigan's foot appeared to be off the plate. The runner was still called out, though, and Arroyo escaped by getting another force out at the plate on a grounder from Ibanez and a pop up from Nick Swisher.

So Pettitte's margin for error was thin, and he kept on going, peering over his glove intensely as he always had. After allowing four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings to take the loss in his first game back last week, Pettitte barely allowed the Reds anything.

In the eighth, Rodriguez helped him finish his night with a diving play at third to end the inning.

He's lost some velocity, with it dipping into the mid-80s at times, but Girardi said Pettitte might be a better pitcher now than he was when he caught him in the late 1990s, thanks to the pitches he's added over the years.

"You kind of feel like you're better," Pettitte said.

Pettitte looked dominant throughout. He opened the game with a strikeout of leadoff hitter Zack Cozart, but Stewart dropped the third strike for a passed ball, then threw over first baseman Swisher's head, allowing Cozart to move to second.

After Cozart moved to third on a rare first-inning bunt, Pettitte struck out the next two hitters.

The Reds would not get a runner past first base against him the rest of the night.

When it was over, the Yankees had welcomed back a pitcher who now looked to energize their staff and team.

"He was great, attacking the zone," Ibanez said of Pettitte. "He looked great. He looked like Andy Pettitte."

NOTES: First baseman Mark Teixeira was given a day off Friday and Girardi acknowledged he was "a little bit" concerned that Teixeira's persistent cough has not improved. Teixeira has had it since mid-April and was told by a specialist during the Yankees' last homestand that he was healthy despite the cough that sometimes makes it difficult for him to breathe. He was hitting .228 and had played in all but one of the Yankees' games before Friday. "The bottom line is, we're trying to get him healthy," Girardi said, adding Teixeira had seen multiple doctors. "... This is a job that you can't very often call in sick. You have to be really sick not to play in our job. We get four months off at the end of the year. That's when you get well." ... Right-hander Ivan Nova (sprained right ankle) was expected to be able to make his start Saturday, but if he was unable to go, Freddy Garcia would likely pitch in his place, Girardi said. ... Catcher Russell Martin was given a day off after catching two games on artificial turf in Toronto. ... Reds third baseman and Toms River, N.J., native Todd Frazier played in his first game at the new Yankee Stadium on Friday. In 1998, after Frazier's Toms River team won the Little League World Series, he stood on the field next to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

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