CHICAGO -- For Andy Pettitte, Monday night's series opener against the White Sox had to have felt like death by a thousand singles.
The veteran left-hander gave up 10 of them in the first three innings alone and Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 in his season debut as the Yankees lost, 8-1, at U.S. Cellular Field. It was the first win for the White Sox in their last 11 games.
Rodriguez -- who was suspended earlier in the day by Major League Baseball for the rest of the 2013 season beginning Thursday and the entire 2014 season -- blooped a single into shallow left field in his first at-bat of the season following hip surgery. He's allowed to play while waiting to have his appeal heard.
Starting at third base, Rodriguez flew out to center, lined out to left and was called out on strikes.
"I felt OK, for the first game," Rodriguez said. "It was hard today, that's for sure. [A] long day. I felt pretty good. From this moment on I want to focus on baseball like it's do or die. Every game's very important for us."
As for his performance at the plate?
"Not bad, not bad," he said. "I've been swinging the bat pretty well the last 10, 12 days. I know it was against some young kids at Double-A and Triple-A, but I felt good."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought Rodriguez's swing looked better than it did last season.
"His swing looked more explosive," said Girardi. "You kind of see him get into his legs a little bit more. You see more torque in his swing. I thought he just missed the ball to center field."
On the same day Rodriguez was suspended for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the man he faced in his first three at-bats of the season was none other than White Sox starter Jose Quintana, who was himself suspended for use of a banned nutritional supplement in 2007 while in the Minor Leagues.
Quintana handled the Yankees for 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run while scattering eight hits. He said he has great respect for the hitter he knows Rodriguez is.
"Alex is a great hitter," Quintana said. "I tried to make good pitches every time I faced him and that's how I was able to get him out. I feel good about being able to pitch in a game like this. ... He's still a Major League hitter whether he has hit since October, so I still tried to pitch him as that. I was just able to get him out."
Pettitte, who had allowed just four earned runs over his previous two outings and boasted a 3.41 road ERA, couldn't continue either of those trends. He yielded four consecutive singles, including an RBI hit by Alex Rios, before recording his first out on an Adam Dunn sacrifice fly that made it 2-0. The White Sox pushed a third run across in the first on another RBI single by Gordon Beckham.
The singles kept coming in the second, with a Jeff Keppinger double tossed in for a little variety. Josh Phegley led off the inning with a base hit and moved to third one out later on the Keppinger double. Both scored on another single by Rios to make it 5-0.
Pettitte couldn't settle things down and exited with two outs in the third following three more singles, including an RBI knock by Alexei Ramirez that made it 6-0. It was Pettitte's shortest outing since July 18, 2010, against Tampa Bay, in which he lasted 2 1/3 innings.
Preston Claiborne came on in relief and walked Rios to force in the seventh run charged to Pettitte.
"It's frustrating. There's just no other way I can say it," Pettitte said. "[It was] just so disappointing. Obviously I didn't feel like they hit the ball real hard. The second inning, I felt like they hit it, I left a couple balls in the zone but, man, we're trying to win series and for me to go out there and to give up three in the first ... it's just so disappointing."
"I mean, you look at the first inning, they didn't really hit him hard," Girardi said. "You look at the second inning, they didn't hit him hard, but [the hits] were just well placed. But I think the first two innings wore him out. He threw a ton of pitches."
"Obviously after those first couple innings, I ran out of gas," Pettitte added. "I can't work like I used to and I can't be throwing 60 pitches in the first two innings of a start anymore."
Ramirez hit an RBI double off Shawn Kelley in the sixth to plate the eighth run for the White Sox.
The only Yankees run scored on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly in the seventh.
The task only gets more difficult for the Yankees on Tuesday when they face All-Star left-hander Chris Sale.
"It's a bad way to start the series," Girardi said. "You're facing their ace [Tuesday]. It's a bad way, but we've got to win a game and we've got to start playing better, there's no doubt about it."