NEW YORK -- As his team finally celebrated in a winning clubhouse for the first time in three weeks Wednesday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge ran a hand through his thinning hair and breathed a sigh of relief.
Rarely has one win felt so good for a Major League team, as Seattle put an end to its franchise-record 17-game losing streak with a 9-2 victory over the Yankees, with rookies Dustin Ackley and Mike Carp supplying the long-missing offense for Felix Hernandez.
"It means everything right now," said Wedge, who had called out his veterans earlier in the day for not producing. "When you've got a monkey on your back that size, it's damn hard to get it off."
This one felt more gorilla-sized to Mariners players who'd grown tired of talking about their skid.
"It's been tough, especially with all the media coverage everywhere we go," said Carp, whose bases-loaded triple in the seventh broke things open. "You hear it, you see it, it's right in your face. We haven't been doing anything about it, but today, we did. It's nice to get it out of the way."
Shortstop Brendan Ryan acknowledged that pressure had been building as the Mariners climbed the list of all-time losing streaks. Only 10 Major League teams since 1900 had lost more than 18 straight, with the Phillies setting the all-time record of 23 in 1961. Baltimore owns the American League mark at 21 straight in '88.
"Every time you turn on 'SportsCenter,' it's the bottom line or the next thing coming up, how many we've lost. That gets old," Ryan said. "Nobody wants to be made fun of or anything like that. And for the most part, I don't think we were even playing bad ball. It wasn't for lack of intensity or focus. We were all playing hard. And I think that played into making it even more frustrating."
But after being outscored, 101-45, in 17 straight games dating back to July 5, the Mariners finally broke loose with a season-high 17 hits. The nine runs were their most since a 9-6 win over Tampa Bay on June 5.
Ackley drove in three runs over three different at-bats, while Carp supplied the capper with his three-run triple off the glove of center fielder Curtis Granderson in the seventh inning as he went 4-for-5.
And after Wedge called out his veterans for not getting it done this season in his pregame session with reporters, right fielder Ichiro Suzuki also went 4-for-5 and scored a pair of runs as he matched his season high for hits.
"Big, big, big," third baseman Adam Kennedy said of the slump-busting win. "The biggest part is we were really pulling for each other individual the whole time. It's rough to see the teammates you enjoy go through this. It was fun for everybody today."
Hernandez took advantage of the support, pitching seven innings of one-run ball with four hits, four walks and five strikeouts as he evened his record at 8-8, with a 3.38 ERA.
"I was like, 'You've got to win this game,'" said Hernandez. "'You've got to win this game, because you've got 17 losses in a row. You better do something. You better pitch the way you're supposed to pitch.'"
Hernandez has always performed well in New York, where he is 5-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last six starts and twice has thrown shutouts. He didn't blank the Bombers in this one, but put the clamps on a team that had won 17 of its last 21 at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees starter Phil Hughes acknowledged "you never want to be that guy" who finally gets beat by a team struggling like Seattle, but knew he was in for a tough day against Hernandez.
"Felix was on it today," said Hughes. "He gave us some trouble, and two runs seemed like all he needed. That's the way it goes."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't going to lose sleep about being the team that finally got beat by the Mariners.
"When I look back on what our club has done this year and when I look back 20 years from now, I'm probably not going to remember it," Girardi said. "They were going to win a game at some point, I really believed that. We didn't play well today and that's why we got beat."
Ackley went 3-for-5 with a triple, raising his average to .301. He had RBIs in the third, fifth and seventh innings to account for Seattle's initial scoring on a day the Mariners struggled again to push runners home until a five-run burst in the seventh.
Carp was 4-for-5, continuing his strong surge since being called up from Tacoma eight days earlier, as he doubled his RBI total for the season to eight.
The two youngsters continue to be shining lights since being called up from Triple-A. In just under six weeks, Ackley has become the Mariners' most consistent hitter, and his .512 slugging percentage is the third best by a rookie second baseman in the Majors since 1950.
Carp also continued showing he belongs after being recalled from Tacoma on July 19. He's now 13-for-33 (.393) since his return, and he's hitting .294 overall. He became just the third rookie in team history with four RBIs and four hits in the same game.
"Ackley is unbelievable," said Hernandez. "Geez, he can hit. Carp is good, too. But it's not only those two guys. Everybody contributed today."
Which is why there were plenty of smiles for the first time in a while in the Mariners' clubhouse as they packed for the return journey to Seattle at the end of a 1-8 road trip that ended far better than it started for a team that had lost 13 straight away games.
"It's always nice to have happy plane flights," said Ryan. "I'm pretty sure we'll have a couple Pepsis and a couple laughs. I don't think any of us want to go through that again."