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Mariners Beat Up Yankees One More Time Rodriguez’s First-Inning Home Run Ignites Seattle’s 9-5 Victory

Jim Street Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Mariners used their bats, butts and some backups to beat up on the defending World Series champions at the Kingdome Friday night.

It’s a beat that goes on.

With backup catcher John Marzano matching his career high in hits and driving in two runs, Alex Rodriguez getting it started by belting a three-run homer in the first inning and Paul Sorrento adding a pinch-hit blast in the seventh, the Mariners handed the New York Yankees a 9-5 loss before 57,351 fans.

The M’s have defeated the Yankees 16 times in the past 19 games at home.

Seattle’s third straight win also maintained its 2-1/2-game lead over the Anaheim Angels in the American League West with 34 games remaining.

Mariners manager Lou Piniella rested catcher Dan Wilson and second baseman Joey Cora. Also, Mike Blowers started at first base against Yankees left-hander Kenny Rogers.

Marzano, Amaral and Blowers went a combined 7 for 11.

They weren’t alone in the 14-hit assault.

Newly acquired left fielder Roberto Kelly contributed two hits and nearly had a third, but his home run bid in the sixth inning became a highlight-film catch by center fielder Bernie Williams.

Rodriguez jump-started the M’s with his 20th homer of the season, but it was the guy who has the adjoining locker getting most of the postgame attention.

Marzano, who has become Jeff Fassero’s personal catcher, did more than put down fingers. He singled in the second, fourth and fifth innings, driving in runs with the last two.

“He’s the man,” Wilson said. “We don’t miss a beat when he’s back there, plus he is adding some offense. He’s the whole package.”

A loud package at that.

“We won’t be able to shut him up (today),” Piniella said.

“Marzie was the MVP of this game,” Rodriguez said. “He’s one of the funniest guys in the American League and keeps everyone loose.”

Marzano chirped away in front of his locker, savoring a moment he seldom experiences.

“I was hoping to get that fourth hit,” he said of a ball he hit up the middle. “I guess the official scorer is from New York. Thought I had it.”

But he had to settle for three hits. The grounder that eluded Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in the seventh inning was ruled an error. It cost Marzano 14 batting-average points - instead of hitting .343, he’s hitting .329.

There was a lot of hitting in the series opener. And some getting-hit as well. Rogers ruffled some Mariners feathers during a three-run Seattle fourth inning that expanded what had been a one-run lead.

Rogers plunked Jay Buhner in the rump after Rodriguez singled leading off. Seven batters and two runs later, the Yankees left-hander hit Griffey on the butt.

Plate umpire Larry Young went to the mound to reprimand Rogers, but it was a moot subject at the time because Yankees manager Joe Torre had made up his mind to change pitchers.

Mariners starter Fassero waited for the opportune moment to deliver his own message. After a quiet and uneventful fifth inning, the lefty drilled Tino Martinez with a fastball two outs into the sixth.

“Just protecting his hitters,” Piniella said.

Ah, the rivalry between these two teams keeps growing.

The payback nearly cost Fassero.

After Martinez reached base with two outs, Mike Stanley singled before Charlie Hayes bounced into an inning-ending force out.

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