SEATTLE – Luis Rodriguez led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a solo homer off New York reliever Cory Wade, and the Seattle Mariners delayed Mariano Rivera’s chase for the saves record with a 2-1 win over the Yankees on Wednesday night.
Rodriguez, who doubled in his previous two at-bats, golfed a 2-1 pitch from Wade (5-1) into the right-field seats and sent the Yankees off to Toronto looking to get Rivera career save No. 601 on Friday night against the Blue Jays.
Seattle reliever Steve Delabar (1-0), who was a substitute teacher earlier during the baseball season before being signed by the Mariners, earned his first major league victory.
New York also missed on a chance to gain another game on the slumping Red Sox after Boston lost at home to Toronto 5-4. The Yankees’ lead in the A.L. East remained at four games.
Seattle had runners in scoring position in the eighth, 10th and 11th innings and failed to come up with a clutch hit each time. In the eighth and 10th it was young infielders Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley with consecutive at-bats in which Seager popped to left and Ackley struck out.
In the 11th, Mike Carp stood on second base with one out, but reliever Wade got a strikeout of Miguel Olivo and a weak groundout from Wily Mo Pena.
But it was Rodriguez, getting a rare start, who came through with the key hit Seattle lacked most of the night. It was his second winning hit of the season after a winning a game in the ninth inning in April with a single.
Rodriguez’s hit, and some fine defensive plays from the Mariners kept the Yankees from giving Rivera a shot at tying the all-time major league saves record.
But New York never got in front. The Yankees’ only offense came from Nick Swisher’s 23rd homer in the top of the seventh inning that ended a strong start from Seattle’s Jason Vargas.
The Yankees had other moments taken away by the Mariners’ defense. Ichiro Suzuki robbed Curtis Granderson of extra bases with a leaping catch on the warning track in the top of the ninth. Michael Saunders robbed Mark Teixeira of at least a double and possible a homer with his leaping catch just in front of the wall in deep right-center field to end the 11th. And Trayvon Robinson made a difficult catch on a tough ball to judge off Gardner’s bat to end the 12th.