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M’s can’t find plate, get eaten alive


Manager Bob Melvin gives Gil Meche quick hook in first inning. Manager Bob Melvin gives Gil Meche quick hook in first inning. 
 (Associated PressAssociated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Manager Bob Melvin gives Gil Meche quick hook in first inning. Manager Bob Melvin gives Gil Meche quick hook in first inning. (Associated PressAssociated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Ralph D. Russo Associated Press

NEW YORK — Mike Mussina was laboring, Seattle was rallying and the Yankees’ bullpen was warming up.

Just when it looked like the game might get away from Mussina, he got a break: a line drive that turned into an inning-ending double play.

It wasn’t pretty, but Mussina won his third straight start with six rocky innings, and the New York Yankees took advantage of a wild night by Seattle’s pitchers to beat the Mariners 9-5 Friday.

“It was not the way I envisioned it when I came to the park,” Mussina said.

Tony Clark drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth, and Bernie Williams broke open the game with a two-run double in the seventh.

The first four Seattle pitchers combined for 10 walks, including four with the bases loaded, and also had two errors and a run-scoring wild pitch.

Seattle lost its season-high sixth straight game despite peppering Mussina (4-4) for 11 hits and five runs in the first 3 1/3 innings.

“I threw some decent pitches, they just kept getting hits,” said Mussina, who walked just one and did not strike out a batter.

Things turned for him in the fourth when Scott Spiezio hit a line drive with men on first and second that Clark snared far off the bag.

“Sometimes you get a break,” Mussina said. “Guy hits one on the screws, and you get a break.”

The 6-foot-7 first baseman lunged to tag out Randy Winn and end the inning.

“I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time,” Clark said.

Seattle never managed another threat.

“If that thing gets through, then the floodgates open a little more,” Seattle manager Bob Melvin said.

Mussina retired six of his final seven batters, then gave way to Paul Quantrill to start the seventh.

“(Mussina) didn’t unravel. He battled,” manager Joe Torre said. “Those last two scoreless innings were important.”

Quantrill and Gabe White finished with three scoreless innings.

Williams, emerging from a season-long slump, was 2 for 3 with three RBIs, raising his average to .226. He broke a 2-for-17 skid by going 3 for 4 with a homer on Thursday.

Clark, subbing for an injured Jason Giambi, was 2 for 2 with two walks and two RBIs.

Ichiro Suzuki had two hits, a run scored and an RBI for Seattle.

“It’s extremely frustrating, what we’re going through right now,” Melvin said.

After four busy innings, the score was tied at 5-5 with the Yankees getting outhit 11-3.

Gary Sheffield singled to lead off the fifth and took second when Ron Villone (3-2) made a pickoff throw that sailed over first baseman Dave Hansen. It was Villone’s second costly error of the game.

Clark followed with a single to right off the end of his bat, driving in Sheffield for a 6-5 lead.

Ichiro led off the game with a double off the right-field wall and scored on Edgar Martinez’s sacrifice fly, but the Yankees quickly erased that deficit in their half of the first with a big assist from pitcher Gil Meche.

With two outs and two on, Meche walked four straight hitters, the final three each forcing in a run. Meche came out after two-thirds of an inning, having thrown 38 pitches, just 17 for strikes. New York led 3-1.

“I had one of those days. I hope it never happens again,” Meche said.

Mussina, who threw eight shutout innings at Seattle in his previous start, couldn’t hold the lead.

Seattle got one back in the third on Spiezio’s sacrifice fly, then smacked Mussina for five hits and three runs in the fourth to make it 5-3.

New York rallied in the fourth, again with lots of help from the Mariners’ pitcher.

Villone was charged with an error after bobbling Derek Jeter’s squib to the mound to load the bases. The left-hander then walked Williams, forcing in a run, and Alex Rodriguez tied the game with a sacrifice fly.

Notes

Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 13 games … Edgar Martinez is tied with Harold Baines for the most home runs by a DH with 235. Martinez hit his 300th career homer early this week. … Catcher Jorge Posada missed his second straight game for New York, but his broken nose was feeling better. He said he expected to sit out Saturday’s game, too. “Maybe, Sunday,” he said. “Most likely Tuesday.” … Jason Giambi missed a start with a sore left hip. He pinch hit in the seventh and was intentionally walked. Yankees manager Joe Torre expected Giambi back in the lineup Saturday. … Yankee Derek Jeter went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts.

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