Burnett bounces back, Yankees win fifth in a row
NEW YORK – After A.J. Burnett had a tough outing last week, he found pitching coach Dave Eiland.
“He said, ‘That’s it. No more of these,'” Eiland said. “I said, ‘Let’s get to work.'”
Five days later, the Yankees’ right-hander has a key September win – he held Oakland to three runs in six innings Wednesday, and New York beat the Athletics 4-3 to stay in first place in the AL East.
Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a two-run homer in the fourth for Oakland, which got within a run an inning later. But Burnett didn’t unravel and the Yankees bullpen got the game to Mariano Rivera for his 28th save.
Oakland starter Brett Anderson, only allowed one earned run, but the A’s fell to 1-8 against New York this season. He committed a key error and then appeared rattled after bobbling a throw from first baseman Daric Barton while covering the bag, leading to three runs.
The Yankees held their one-game lead over Tampa Bay. They’ll go for a four-game sweep Thursday with CC Sabathia on the mound.
“Just because we have CC tomorrow doesn’t mean we can let up,” Derek Jeter said.
Burnett (10-12) went 0-4 in five starts since his last win, July 28 at Cleveland. He came off a particularly rough outing in which he lasted 3 1-3 innings and tied a season high with eight earned runs, leaving him with a 7.80 ERA in August.
Burnett struck out eight and was relieved after six innings and 91 pitches, in part, manager Joe Girardi said, because New York’s bullpen was well-rested. It probably also didn’t hurt that it kept Burnett in line for a long-awaited win – even though Burnett said that wasn’t important to him.
“My job is to go out there like I did tonight,” Burnett said. “And keep it going next time.”
Rivera struck out Kurt Suzuki with a runner on second to end it. Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain and Kerry Wood both put runners on first and second with two outs before escaping to end the previous two innings.
Anderson (3-6) has lost four of his last five starts. He gave up eight hits in six innings.
Mark Ellis had three hits for the A’s, who gave up 20 runs in the first two games of the series, but couldn’t capitalize when they held the Yankees to four.
Coco Crisp’s RBI groundout that made it 4-3 in the fifth was possible because Rajai Davis stole third base after he doubled.
The Yankees got a couple of breaks in their three-run second inning that made it 4-0.
Curtis Granderson and Eduardo Nunez hit one-out singles just over shortstop Cliff Pennington’s glove.
Granderson motored home as Jeter was safe at first when Anderson bobbled the catch and fell over while covering first.
“It was one of the few times in my short baseball career that I actually beat him to the bag,” Anderson said. “I should’ve just caught it and stepped on the bag, but I looked at the bag before I caught it and then missed the ball and tried to grab it and fell.
“It was kind of a typical play with me being unathletic.”
Anderson then walked Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira’s two-run single went just between the outstretched gloves of Pennington and Kouzmanoff at third base.
“The error definitely cost him. It was the third out of the inning.” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Then he couldn’t recover after that, walked Swisher after that, ball just squeaked through the infield after that and we’re down 4-0.”
Teixeira was 3 for 4 and drove in a three runs. “Two of those hits were actually lucky ones – ground balls with eyes,” Teixeira said. “Sometimes you need that.”
NOTES: Jorge Posada hit for Yankees C Francisco Cervelli in the eighth and was ejected after plate umpire Dana DeMuth called strike three on a pitch that appeared to be outside. Posada took his bat and drew a line in the dirt, showing where the ball was wide. Chad Moeller, called up earlier in the day when rosters expanded, trotted in from the bullpen and caught the ninth. … Yankees switch-pitcher Pat Venditte was promoted from Class A Tampa to Double-A Trenton. … Davis got his 40th steal in the fifth. The only other A’s with 40 in a season are Rickey Henderson, Bert Campaneris and Billy North. … Yankees DH Lance Berkman was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list. He batted for Nunez in the eighth, doubled, and was lifted for a runner. … RHP Javier Vazquez will rejoin the Yankees’ rotation on Saturday against Toronto after two relief appearances. … New York LHP Andy Pettitte (groin) had another successful bullpen outing. He has been out since July 18. He says he expects to pitch another bullpen and make a rehab appearance before he can rejoin the Yankees. … Jeter was 1 for 25 before he led off the bottom of the first with a single.