July 9, 2010 in Sports

Rodriguez delivers as M’s struggle late yet again

Everett Herald
Associated Press photo

Mariners catcher Josh Bard loses the ball as the Yankees’ Nick Swisher scores in the ninth inning.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

SEATTLE – Many in the crowd booed and a few even flung dollar bills from the upper deck when Alex Rodriguez batted Thursday night at Safeco Field.

Ah, hard feelings are still in the air after all these years, and Rodriguez gave those folks chances to cheer – or jeer – with fly balls each of his first three at-bats.

But when it was time to be a money player, Rodriguez came through for the New York Yankees in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

He drew a leadoff walk and scored in the eighth inning to tie the score, then delivered a two-out, two run single in the ninth off Mariners closer David Aardsma to win it for the Yankees.

In suffering their 26th loss this season by two runs or less, the Mariners again couldn’t get clutch hits when they had opportunities, especially in the sixth inning when they scored their only run off Yankees veteran Andy Pettitte but left the bases loaded.

“It goes back to offense again,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “Sixth inning, you have to capitalize in that situation. We have to be able to score some runs to take the pressure off this bullpen.”

When they didn’t, the Mariners lost their fourth straight game and their sixth of the past seven.

Aardsma was the victim of record, dropping to 0-6 after allowing two hits and two walks in the ninth, but starting pitcher Jason Vargas suffered as well.

Vargas pitched his 13th quality start this season (at least six innings with no more than three earned runs) but was left with his seventh no-decision.

As the Mariners have said too often in this season of pitching excellence and offensive impotence, Vargas gave the Mariners a chance to win. He didn’t quite match Pettitte pitch for pitch, given he’d thrown 78 through five innings to Pettitte’s 58, but he did the most important thing by holding the Yankees scoreless through seven innings.

Problem was, Pettitte didn’t give the Mariners’ offense much to work with. They left seven runners on base and went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

The Mariners scored in the sixth when Josh Wilson and Michael Saunders hit back-to-back singles and Ichiro Suzuki squared for a sacrifice bunt that led to a run. Pettitte fielded it and threw wildly to first base, allowing Wilson to score for a 1-0 lead while Ichiro and Saunders reached second and third with nobody out.

Chone Figgins grounded out and Pettitte intentionally walked Franklin Gutierrez before making his biggest pitches of the game. He struck out Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez to end the inning.

Pettitte had runners on base in each of the next two innings with less than two outs but got out of those.

Vargas, meanwhile, pitched with runners on base in every inning but escaped all but the eighth, when he walked Rodriguez on four pitches to start the inning and Robinson Cano followed with a single to right field.

Wakamatsu pulled Vargas, who’d thrown 106 pitches, and brought in right-hander Brian Sweeney.

Sweeney came in to face Jorge Posada with two runners on base, and he threw a wild pitch that allowed Rodriguez to reach third.

He got Posada to ground into a double play, but Rodriguez scored to tie the score 1-1.

Lee: M’s declined to talk

Cliff Lee’s situation reached the can-of-worms stage when the star pitcher said he would have discussed a longterm contract during spring training but “the Mariners decided to wait.”

“We told them in spring training that if they wanted to do something, to do it before the season starts,” Lee said. “Even up until I came back (from an abdominal injury that kept him from pitching until late April) we said, ‘If you want to do something, do it before I start pitching.’

“They decided not to and that’s that.”

Lee, acquired last December when the Mariners traded three minor leaguers to the Philadelphia Phillies, leads the American League with a 2.34 earned run average.

He’ll be eligible for free agency after this season for the first time in his career. He’s making $9 million this season.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik declined to comment Thursday.

Yankees 3, Mariners 1

Jeter ss 410010.277
Swisher rf 414010.307
Teixeira 1b 501000.240
A.Rodriguez dh 411210.272
Cano 2b 402010.339
Posada c 501001.266
Granderson cf 403000.235
Gardner lf 400003.308
R.Pena 3b 200000.203
a-Thames ph 100000.288
Russo 3b 100001.188
Totals 38312245
I.Suzuki rf 402000.326
Figgins 2b 201020.235
F.Gutierrez cf 300010.263
Branyan dh 400003.261
Jo.Lopez 3b 400001.240
Kotchman 1b 300012.212
J.Bard c 400001.194
Jo.Wilson ss 311001.265
M.Saunders lf 301002.215
Totals 30150410
New York 000000012 – 3121
Seattle 000001000 – 152

a-flied out for R.Pena in the 7th. E – Pettitte (3), I.Suzuki (2), Jo.Wilson (10). LOB – New York 12, Seattle 7. 2B – Swisher 2 (20). RBIs – A.Rodriguez 2 (69). RLSP – New York 5 (A.Rodriguez 3, R.Pena, Posada); Seattle 3 (Jo.Lopez 2, I.Suzuki). GIDP – Teixeira, Posada, F.Gutierrez. DP – New York 1 (Jeter, Cano, Teixeira); Seattle 2 (Jo.Wilson, Figgins, Kotchman), (Figgins, Kotchman).

Pettitte W, 11-2 8511491072.70
M.Rivera S, 20-22 100001221.05
J.Vargas 7911231063.09
B.Sweeney BS, 1-1 110000120.90
Aardsma L, 0-6 122222325.60

J.Vargas pitched to 2 batters in the 8th. IR-S – B.Sweeney 2-1. IBB – off Pettitte (F.Gutierrez), off Aardsma (Cano). HBP – by Pettitte (Jo.Wilson). WP – B.Sweeney. T – 2:48. A – 37,432 (47,878).

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