Andy Pettitte Continues to Pitch Well for Yankees, Stifles Nationals in 5-3 Win

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IJune 16, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16:  Andy Pettitte #46 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Heading into the second game of the battle between first-place teams with the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals, the Bombers were looking for another strong performance from Andy Pettitte.

The Yankees got that from their now 40-year-old left-hander, as he kept the Nationals lineup guessing and off the scoreboard.

The only time Washington was able to get to Pettitte was when Jesus Flores hit a two-run double to deep left field that put the Nationals ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning.

Other than that, Washington didn't do a whole lot against Pettitte, as he threw seven strong innings, allowed five hits and two runs, walked three and struck out six. Pettitte also left the game with the lead.

Pettitte made Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper look extremely foolish the entire game by striking him out three times and making him chase wildly on his breaking pitches.

In the seventh start of the year for Pettitte, he gave the Yankees another start where he went deep into the game and got a decent amount of strikeouts.

He's thrown 48.2 innings, has struck out 46 batters while walking just 12 and his ERA is at 2.77, which is fantastic.

Unfortunately for Pettitte, Cory Wade couldn't hold the lead in the eighth inning, as Ian Desmond cranked out a home run to the left field seats that tied the game at 3-3 and prevented Pettitte from picking up his fourth win of the year.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16:  Tyler Moore #57 of the Washington Nationals reacts after being thrown out at home plate during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Nationals Park on June 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Get
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Even though Wade couldn't hold the lead, Pettitte still pitched very well and definitely deserved to win the game.

As long as he continues to give the Yankees these types of outings—ones where he pitches deep into games and strikes out a bunch of batters—Pettitte will eventually pick up more victories in 2012.

The game remained tied until the top of the 14th inning, where Mark Teixeira hit a two-run double to right field that gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead.

Rafael Soriano notched his 12th save of the year, despite putting runners on first and second, but the Nationals couldn't make Soriano pay for it.

With the win, the Yankees have won eight in a row and are playing good baseball right now. They aren't just relying on the home run and are now showing everyone that they can win close games against good teams.

The Yankees caught a break in the game when Adam LaRoche hit a double off Wade and Tyler Moore tried to come around to score.

DeWayne Wise threw the ball to Russell Martin, who applied the tag on Moore and was called out. However, the replay showed that Moore beat the tag and should have been safe, but the umpire never saw Moore's hand hit home plate and only saw Martin's tag, thus Moore was called out at home.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16:  Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees hits a two run double in the fourteenth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 16, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Like I said, the Yankees caught a break there. But the Nationals couldn't capitalize on scoring more than three runs in the game, as they left 19 runners on base during the game.

With the win on Saturday, it's also the fifth straight series the Yankees have won, as they have successfully won series now against the Tigers, Rays, Mets, Braves and now the Nationals.

During that stretch, the Yankees are 12-2, which is why they are now in first place and 1.5 games up on the Orioles.

On Sunday afternoon, the Yankees will attempt to go for the sweep and win their ninth in a row as Ivan Nova will take the ball for the Yankees, while Edwin Jackson will pitch for the Nationals.

The Yankees are playing great baseball right now and will look to continue the trend that their 40-year-old starter has set with each of his starts.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.