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M's give Yankees the slip
Seattle Times staff reporter
If ever a team needed a players' meeting, it was the Mariners, who are supposed to be better than losing 13 of their previous 16 games.
If ever there was a team meeting that worked, it was the one Bret Boone called before pregame hitting last night.
Jamie Moyer stumbled for a fourth straight start and spotted New York four runs in the first. The Yankees had Mike Mussina, who entered the game 17-5 against Seattle in his career. Yet somehow, the Mariners were inspired.
They came up with a 7-6 win on a single by .144-hitting Miguel Olivo in the eighth that was worthy of the pennant race, if not the postseason. In the process, they snapped the Yankees' 10-game win streak.
"Our meeting was short and sweet," said Raul Ibanez, whose three runs batted — one in the two-run first and two in the fifth — kept Seattle's hopes alive. "It was basically that we are a better team than our results have been lately."
Not only did they tie the score 6-6 in the sixth after Olivo ran out a missed strike three, but with closer Eddie Guardado home in California where wife Lisa is about to give birth, the bullpen was spectacular.
Jeff Nelson (1-1)
Tom Gordon (0-3)
Tomorrow: San Diego at Seattle, 7:05, FSN
Starting pitchers: M's Ryan Franklin vs. Jake Peavy
"I'll talk, but my heart is still in my throat," manager Mike Hargrove said with a laugh, "that was some game. Even though that was our first win against the Yankees and we're 1-5 against them, we've competed every game with them, and that was evident tonight."
The relief really began when Hasegawa struck out Hideki Matsui, coming back from a 3-0 count, with the bases loaded in the sixth and ended when Villone struck out Jason Giambi on three pitches in the ninth, again with the bases jammed.
"Our guys said good things in the meeting," Hasegawa said. "It helped us big time. The message was that even though our record was not good right now, this is not last year. That may not have been a good year, but this is a team that can have a good year ... so let's go."
One win, only the fourth in 17 games for Seattle, started out with a four-run first inning for the visitors in which Alex Rodriguez had a three-run homer.
The hard start has been a leading cause of the Mariners' recent swoon. Starters have allowed 64 runs in the first four innings of the past 17 games, including 24 in the first inning, and the staggering Moyer has been a major contributor.
While he allowed only two runs over his final four innings last night, he has lasted only 13-2/3 innings total in his last four starts and allowed 23 runs as opponents have pounded him for a .473 (35 for 74) average.
But the Mariners came right back at Mussina, scoring twice, on Ibanez's first double and Boone's wicked liner through the box.
"Coming right back like that was important," Hargrove said. "It takes a little wind out of their sails."
Yet Moyer was unable to keep it at 4-2 as New York bumped home two more in the third. But again fate might have done him better as Matsui plunked his second soft opposite-field hit into left, this a double with one out and after Rodriguez walked, Giambi lined an 0-2 single to right.
But Ibanez made it 6-4 with his second double in the fifth. Then in the sixth, the Yankees' defense faltered, and, after Hasegawa left the bases full in the top of the inning, the Mariners got the score even.
With two away and one on against reliever Tanyon Sturtz, Olivo hustled out his strike three and Wilson Valdez plunked a single to right, scoring Jeremy Reed from second. Gary Sheffield's throw to third hit Olivo and he came home with the 6-6 run.
Against Tom Gordon in the eighth, Reed slipped a ground ball inside third and busted hard for second.
"That made Tony Womack go hard for the ball in left, and he overran it," Hargrove said.
Reed went for third, and pulled back his lead right hand and slipped his left to the bag, just ahead of Rodriguez's tag.
"I didn't expect it to be that close," Reed said. "I pulled back my lead hand as he Rodriguez was going for it and got my other hand in there."
With two away, Gordon missed down the middle and Olivo lined his game-deciding hit to center, 7-6.
Nelson stayed in to start the ninth and with one out, walked Sheffield. "No way we can have a lefty face Sheffield," Hargrove said. "Then we went to Villone, and like the others he did a great job."
Matsui singled on 0-2, and after bench coach Ron Hassey moved shortstop Valdez closer to the hole, Rodriguez grounded to that side. Valdez made a backhand play and forced Sheffield at third.
"I moved three steps, just before that and he nearly got the ball through anyway," Valdez said. "We had talked before the ball and decided on anything hit that way, I'd throw to third."
Jorge Posada loaded the bases with an infield roller and that's when the tremors of a Yankees' charge could be felt.
But Villone blew Giambi away.
"Those guys just keep coming at you," the reliever said. "You just keep battling back. We know we're better than our results have showed lately. This game is an example of that."
Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company