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Garcia pitches 7 2/3 strong innings

NEW YORK -- In 2001, a 24-year-old Freddy Garcia anchored the staff of a Seattle Mariners team that matched a Major League record with 116 wins before falling to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

Ten years later at Yankee Stadium, the now 34-year-old Garcia found himself in the middle of this old rivalry once again, this time on the winning side.

A decade never seemed further away than it did Monday during the Yankees' 10-3 win over the Mariners, prolonged by a one-hour, 57-minute rain delay to start the game.

Garcia pitched his seventh quality start in his last eight outings, sending the Mariners to their 16th consecutive loss while picking up his ninth win. That is half as many wins as he had during the Mariners' historic 2001 campaign. And though he did not need much help from his new team Monday -- he gave up just three runs in 7 2/3 innings -- he received plenty of it from his old one.

"They lost what, 16 in a row? I don't want to be the one to ... you know," Garcia said. "So it's nice to win. Got that win tonight."

Trying to keep the thought out of his mind, Derek Jeter swerved his head away from a reporter when asked if he had thought about the Mariners' losing streak entering the game.

"No, no," he said. "I mean, for us, we want to continue to play well regardless of who we're playing. We're aware they've struggled a little bit, but they have a good team. They're capable of winning a lot of games in a row, so hopefully we come out and play another good game tomorrow night."

Perhaps no frame summed up Seattle's nearly three-week run of futility as perfectly -- or as imperfectly -- as the bottom of the fourth, when the Yankees scored five runs, four of them unearned.

Russell Martin reached first with one out on a fielding error by Adam Kennedy at third before Andruw Jones reached on a questionable infield single after Mariners starter Jason Vargas was late to cover first. Eduardo Nunez and Brett Gardner hit consecutive RBI singles to put runners at the corners for Jeter, with the Yankees already up, 5-1.

Jeter hit a grounder to second, where Dustin Ackley decided to throw home to get Nunez. But in a play befitting the fortunes of these two clubs, Ackley's throw hit Jeter's bat, which was on the ground in front of Miguel Olivo at home, and the ball bounced to the backstop, allowing Nunez to score and putting two men in scoring position.

"We gave them a few extra outs," Kennedy said, "and with an offense like that, it makes it tough on the pitching staff."

Curtis Granderson followed with a sacrifice fly before Mark Teixeira hit an RBI single to make it 8-1.

Teixeira got the Yankees on the board his first time up by hitting his 27th home run of the season, a no-doubter that landed in the second deck in left field. Jeter followed in the third with a solo homer the other way to make it 3-1, a seemingly insurmountable margin for a team mired in a slump like the Mariners.

Jeter added an RBI triple to right in the eighth for the game's final run.

Steve Garrison came on with one out in the ninth to make his Major League debut, and retired the only two batters he faced to end the game.

With the Trade Deadline approaching and the annual routine of the Yankees and prominent arms being linked together, some have seen this stretch as a judging point for the rotation, and particularly for the aging arms of 38-year-old Bartolo Colon and Garcia, who have performed above and beyond expectations after being signed to Minor League deals in the winter.

Before the game, manager Joe Girardi said he did not see it that way, and he praised Garcia afterward for his ability to not get lost in the noise surrounding him.

"That he knows how to concentrate," Girardi said when asked what Garcia's performance told him. "That he knows how not to get caught up in what's going around him. It also tells you he knows how to pitch. This guy's been real effective for us."

But Garcia, a 13-year Major League veteran, saw No. 5 starter Ivan Nova get sent to the Minors right before the All-Star break upon Phil Hughes' return to the rotation, and he knows how replaceable anyone is during a playoff push.

That made Monday's outing all the more satisfying.

"Of course," Garcia said. "You got to feel good about it, because you don't know what they're going to do. We've got five starters and they sent Nova down. You have to think about it sometimes, because, you know, they sent this guy down when he was 8-4, so you got to expect something you don't know. But I don't really think about it. I got to go out there and perform the best I can."

Girardi came out to get Garcia after his 98th pitch, ball four to Olivo in the eighth. No one had even gotten up in the Yankees' bullpen until a batter earlier, when Cory Wade and Boone Logan warmed up before the latter came in and struck out Kennedy with two on.

Garcia received a warm ovation from the devoted few who stayed to witness his renaissance up close.

For those on the other side, it looked familiar, as has every other game lately. Comments