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World Series 2001
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11/04/2001 05:22 AM ET
Pettitte struggles early and often
By Mark Feinsand
MLB.com
Andy Pettitte is now 2-3 in the World Series.
Game highlights: 56k | 300k
Brosius' bad throw to the plate: 56k | 300k

PHOENIX -- It was Game 1 of the 1996 World Series all over again for Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte took the mound for Game 6 of the 2001 Fall Classic with an opportunity to help New York close out its fourth consecutive title. All he had to do was match Randy Johnson, Arizona's 6-foot-10 flamethrower, something he had almost done in the Yankees' 4-0 loss in Game 2.

But Pettitte couldn't deliver, allowing six runs on seven hits in two-plus innings as the Diamondbacks evened the best-of-seven series at three with a 15-2 win.

"I didn't feel quite as sharp as I was in the first game," Pettitte said. "My breaking stuff was a little flat. I can't really put my finger on it. They were fouling a lot of pitches off and I was not able to put guys away when I needed to, like I was last time."

Pettitte, who gave up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in his first '96 Series start, was off his game from the very beginning on Saturday, giving up a double to Tony Womack and a single to Danny Bautista to start the game, giving Arizona a quick 1-0 lead.

The backbreaker came in the second inning. Matt Williams led off with a single and Reggie Sanders followed with a double to put runners at second and third. Jay Bell grounded out to third baseman Scott Brosius for the inning's first out, so manager Joe Torre opted to have Pettitte walk catcher Damien Miller to load the bases and set up the double play as pitcher Randy Johnson came to the plate.

Johnson, swinging at the first pitch, obliged by hitting a grounder to Brosius for what appeared to be 5-2-3 inning-ending double play. But the throw home was wide of the plate and while catcher Jorge Posada was able to stretch and get the out at home, there was no time to double-up Johnson at first.

"I got a tough throw from Scotty," Posada said, "and when I turned around, I saw Johnson almost at the bag, so I didn't want to force a throw. I thought we had a good chance against Womack, but he had a very good at-bat and got the base hit."

Womack's single to left-center field scored two and Bautista, who would knock in five runs in the game, stroked his second RBI single of the game. Arizona had a 4-0 lead, one that seemed more than enough for Johnson.

"It's just frustrating, to be able to have a chance to get out of that second inning, to get out of that," Pettitte said. "I fell behind in the count on (Womack), and I can't walk him right there. So I just had to throw balls basically right down the middle.

"The second inning was just a monster. When Womack got that hit, that was basically the ballgame there."

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"He didn't have a curveball and his fastball was up in the zone," Posada said. "He made some good pitches, but Womack's hit was the one that really hurt."

The third inning proved to be the one that put New York away for good, ending any hope of a champagne celebration on this night. Pettitte walked Greg Colbrunn to lead off the third, and gave up a scorching double to Matt Williams, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

Torre had seen enough, prompting him to call on Jay Witasick to relieve Pettitte, ending the southpaw's day -- and 2001 season.

"It looked like his breaking ball was rolling," Torre said. "He did not look like he had as good of command he had the last time out. It was one of those things that you don't expect to happen; when it does, you know, you turn the page."

D-Backs manager Bob Brenly said that while he knows his offense is capable of putting up big numbers on the scoreboard, doing under these circumstances was not what he expected when he came to the ballpark.

"You certainly don't anticipate it against Andy Pettitte in Game 6 of the World Series, but that was a hungry bunch of hitters that we sent up to the plate tonight," Brenly said. "I was just very grateful for the way the guys swung the bats tonight. Everybody was very aggressive. We know Pettitte throws a lot of strikes so we went up there swinging the bats. Fortunately tonight, a lot of them found holes."

After Pettitte left the game, the game got out of hand as Witasick allowed eight runs to cross the plate, including the two runners Pettitte had put on.

"It was a shock for me," Pettitte said of his night. "I don't expect to have a start like that, and haven't in a while in the postseason, I think, since Game 1 of '96. It was disappointing. And then, just to see that inning go on, it was almost as amazing as the home runs that we hit in Game 4 and Game 5 there at home, just to see how everything they hit was a base hit."

Pettitte, who won the ALCS MVP award, finished the World Series with an 0-2 record and a 10.00 ERA. His career Fall Classic record now stands at 2-3 with a 5.48 ERA. However, if the Yankees are able to win Game 7 to capture their fourth straight title, the fifth in six years, none of those numbers will mean a thing to Pettitte.

"It's disappointing for me to have this start. We were ready to close this thing out tonight," he said. "I've been fortunate to be in that opportunity several times now, and it's disappointing. I was expecting a lot more out of myself tonight, but it's easier for me to swallow, knowing we have a great starter going (Sunday) and I expect Roger to throw a great game."

Mark Feinsand is the site reporter for Yankees.com. He can be reached at mfeinsand@yankees.com.