It's been only seven months since Andy Pettitte last faced the Phillies at Yankee Stadium, and that night ended with a champagne-filled World Series celebration inside the home clubhouse.
With the stakes enormously lower Thursday night, Pettitte and the Phillies met again. But in this rematch it was a guy who wasn't even on the Phillies' World Series roster who came away victorious.
Kyle Kendrick, who watched the postseason last fall from the Phillies' bench as an inactive player, out-pitched Pettitte on Thursday night and handed the Yankees a 7-1 loss, their second straight.
Although Pettitte pitched well enough to win on most any other night -- he allowed just two earned runs (three total) in seven innings -- his teammates didn't reward him with much support. The offense sputtered all night and the bullpen failed him.
A night after the Yankees mustered only two runs and three hits off 47-year-old Jamie Moyer, they were baffled by the 25-year-old Kendrick. He allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, capitalizing on the Yankee hitters' inexperience against him. Mark Teixeira was the only hitter who had ever faced Kendrick coming into the game and he couldn't really offer his teammates much advice. He had been just 1 for 12 against the right-hander.
The only real scoring opportunity the Yankees had against Kendrick ended thanks to a highlight-reel catch by Placido Polanco. With two outs and men on the corners and one run already in, the Phillies third baseman sprawled himself over the rolled-up tarp in left field foul territory and reached into the first row to make a remarkable back-handed catch on Nick Swisher's pop-up.
"At first, I definitely thought it was back in the stands, three or four rows deep," Kendrick said.
By then it was already clear that with the Yankees struggling against Kendrick, Pettitte was going to have to be near perfect and receive some help to come away with his ninth win. While he started impressively, his night started heading south thanks to an error by Ramiro Pena in the fourth and a poorly placed cutter in the fifth.
After using only 31 pitches to cruise through three perfect innings, Pettitte gave up a leadoff single to Shane Victorino in the fourth inning. After Chase Utley popped out, the Yankees left-hander induced a grounder from Polanco to the usually sure-fielding Pena, who was playing third while Alex Rodriguez (sore groin) was the designated hitter.
While it was hit too slowly for any chance at a double-play, the charging Pena could have gotten Polanco out at first had he fielded the ball cleanly. But Pena missed it, with the ball going under his glove on its third bounce. That put runners on first and second with one out, and the Phillies immediately capitalized.
Ryan Howard hit Pettitte's next pitch on the ground between Teixeira and Robinson Cano into right field, allowing Utley to score.