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Pettitte return highlights Yankees-Blue Jays doubleheader

It's not surprising that given the choice, New York Yankees starter Andy Pettitte elected to pitch the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Having not pitched in the majors since June 27, the veteran is ready to get back on the mound.

Pettitte was slated to start Tuesday's opener of this three-game set between AL East teams, but the contest was postponed due to rain. The clubs will instead play two on Wednesday with a day-night doubleheader.

New York manager Joe Girardi said he gave Pettitte a choice in which game the 40-year-old wanted to start. He picked the opener.

"I ain't gonna lie to you, I'm tired of talking about (his return)," Pettitte said. "I just want to go out there and pitch and hopefully give this team a chance to win that ballgame and move forward from there."

Pettitte has been out since suffering a fractured left ankle in a game against the Cleveland Indians on June 27. The lefty went winless in his four starts prior to going on the DL and is 3-3 with a solid 3.22 ERA through nine starts this season, which follows a brief one-year retirement.

Pettitte has a wealth of experience versus the Blue Jays, going 21-12 with a 4.16 ERA in 42 meetings, including 41 starts.

Girardi had said on Sunday that Pettitte will likely be on a pitch count around 70.

Pettitte returns to a Yankees team that led the AL East by as many as 10 games back on July 18, but now finds itself once again tied with the Baltimore Orioles for first place. The O's took advantage of the Yanks' rain out and logged an extra-inning win on Tuesday to create the tie, though they have now played two more games than New York.

In order to keep Phil Hughes on schedule for his Thursday start in the finale of this set, David Phelps will return to the rotation to start tonight's second game for New York.

Phelps made his sixth straight start on Sept. 12 and beat the Boston Red Sox with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, then shifted to the bullpen and pitched on Sunday. The righty recorded two outs in an appearance against the Tampa Bay Rays and is 4-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 29 games (9 starts) this season.

Phelps, 25, has faced Toronto once this year as a starter and did not get a decision after allowing four runs on five hits, two homers and a walk in 6 1/3 frames of work.

Toronto's Ricky Romero was set to face Pettitte on Tuesday, but will instead go up against Phelps in the nightcap looking to avoid a 14th straight losing decision.

Romero, who won 15 games and posted a 2.92 ERA last season, was 8-1 following his last victory on June 22, but has since logged a 7.95 ERA over a 14-start winless drought. His 13 straight losses ties the franchise mark first set by Tom Underwood in 1978-79.

The 27-year-old lefty lost his sixth start in a row on Wednesday versus the Seattle Mariners, yielding three runs on eight hits and four walks in four innings of work.

"We're going to continue to work with him," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "We're going to continue to finish this year on a positive note and that is our intent going forward."

Romero, now 8-14 with a 5.87 ERA in 29 starts this year, has lost five straight decisions to the Yankees. That includes all three starts against them this year while posting a 4.95 ERA.

Henderson Alvarez will start the first game for Toronto.

The 22-year-old has followed up five straight losing decisions with back-to- back wins and is coming off a victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. Alvarez allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in seven innings, moving to 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA in 28 starts this season.

The rookie righty has faced New York three times while logging a 6.46 ERA without a decision.

Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar will begin serving a three-game suspension handed down by the Blue Jays on Tuesday for writing a homophobic slur in Spanish on his eye-black stickers during Saturday's game versus Boston.

Escobar, who is hitting .251 with nine homers and 49 RBI this season, apologized for the incident on Tuesday during a news conference at Yankee Stadium.

"I'm sorry for the actions of the other day," Escobar said through a translator. "I'd like to apologize to the fans and the Blue Jays organization. It's not something I intended to be offensive. It was nothing intentional or directed at anyone in particular."

Escobar's lost salary will be directed by the club to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation according to a release by the Blue Jays. Escobar will also participate in an outreach initiative to help educate society about sensitivity and tolerance to others based on their sexual orientation.

New York has won six of its 11 meetings versus Toronto this season.