ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Andy Pettitte continues to turn back the clock with every outing, and he's off to one of the best starts of his 16-year career.
Pettitte threw eight sharp innings for the New York Yankees in a 7-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. The 37-year-old left-hander's 1.29 ERA after four starts is his lowest ever at this stage of a season.
"When I left spring training, I felt like all my pitches were right where I wanted them to be," said Pettitte, who didn't pitch in a preseason game until March 17. "The first couple of starts, my stamina wasn't there. So I feel fortunate that I've been able to get off to the start I've gotten off to.
"Now the stamina is there. So hopefully, me missing all of spring training, as far as competition, will be a blessing in disguise and I'll feel strong throughout the season," Pettitte added. "My location's been really good. I'm mixing my pitches up good, I'm moving the ball in and out, and my command's been pretty good. Anytime you can do that, you're going to be successful."
Robinson Cano had four hits and scored three runs for the defending World Series champions. Nick Swisher and No. 9 hitter Francisco Cervelli each had two RBIs in a 14-hit attack against Joel Pineiro and two relievers.
Pettitte (3-0) allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked none. The two-time All-Star gave up his only run on Torii Hunter's sacrifice fly in the sixth, after getting staked to a 6-0 lead. It was the left-hander's 30th regular-season start against the Angels, the team he beat in the Yankees' home opener with six scoreless innings on April 13.
Pineiro (2-2) worked six innings and allowed six runs, two more than he gave up in 20 1-3 innings over his first three starts. The Yankees got 11 hits against the right-hander, who held them to a run and five hits over seven innings in the Bronx during his 5-3 victory on April 14.
"I thought we did a better job of making Pineiro get the ball up a little bit today," manager Joe Girardi said. "We chased some pitches down in the zone last time. And if you do that, he's going to be awful tough. But our guys made the adjustment after seeing him once, and I think they had a better idea of what his sinker was like, as opposed to just watching it on film."
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was in the DH spot for the first time this season, while Nick Johnson got the day off because of some slight lower back stiffness — and may not be back in the lineup until Tuesday at the earliest. Rodriguez went 1 for 5 and twice struck out looking.
Ramiro Pena made his first start at third this season for New York, and made his presence felt defensively by robbing former Yankee Juan Rivera of a hit in the second inning with a diving catch of his line drive in the hole. One inning later, Pena made a nice play to short-hop a throw from left fielder Brett Gardner and slap the tag on Mike Napoli as he tried to advance from first base on Brandon Wood's single.
Swisher opened the scoring with an RBI double in the second. Cervelli, making his fourth start behind the plate in place of Jorge Posada with the Yankees playing a day game after a night game, hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the fourth and Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single.
The Yankees tacked on two more in the fifth. Gardner led off the fifth with a triple, his third hit of the game, and scored on a single by Cano — who came around on a wild pitch, a passed ball and a single by Swisher to make is 6-0. Pettitte then struck out the side in the bottom of the inning.
"I've never seen him pitch this well," Hunter said. "He looked like the Andy Pettitte of old. He just hit his spots and was poised out there. When he wanted to throw the curve on the outside corner, he threw it there. Fastball inside corner, he threw it there. He made one or two mistakes, but we couldn't capitalize. And one or two mistakes in a game for a pitcher is awesome."
Mark Teixeira drove in the Yankees' final run with an RBI single in the seventh against Scot Shields. It was the right-hander's first appearance since last Tuesday against Detroit, when he walked three batters in the seventh inning and was charged with three runs. The Angels will continue to Shields in non-critital situations until he straightens himself out. His ERA in six outings this season is 14.55.
NOTES: X-rays taken on catcher Bobby Wilson's injured left ankle were inconclusive because of the swelling that resulted from his collision with Teixeira during Friday's series opener. Wilson, who made his first big league start in that game, also had a concussion and was placed on the 15-day disabled list late Friday night. ... With Wilson and Jeff Mathis both on the DL, it's the first time the Angels have had more than one catcher on the DL at the same time since the 2001 season, when Bengie Molina, Jorge Fabregas and Jose Molina all were put on it during a 17-day span. ... Pineiro has allowed one walk in his last three starts, an intentional pass to Curtis Granderson in the fourth inning. ... Hideki Matsui, who spent the previous six seasons with the Yankees and was last year's World Series MVP, had two singles and is one hit away from 1,000 in the major leagues.