Beltre beats Rivera, Yanks
Slugger's blast ensures hard-fought split for Mariners
NEW YORK -- A big break in the eighth inning and a game-deciding blast in the ninth on Monday night sent the Mariners out of town with an uplifting split of their four-game series against the Yankees.A stolen base that wasn't, and a home run that definitely was, helped produce two runs and give the Mariners a 3-2 victory over the Yankees in front of 47,424 at Yankee Stadium. Overdue for some luck, the Mariners found a rabbit's foot at second base in the eighth inning. With two outs, pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist "stole" second base and scored the tying run on Kenji Johjima's single into shallow right field. And then, two outs into the top of the ninth, third baseman Adrian Beltre hammered the first pitch he saw from Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera over the wall in left-center, putting Seattle ahead. Closer J.J. Putz protected the lead in the bottom of the ninth for his seventh consecutive save. "That was a big win for us," manager Mike Hargrove said. "Anytime you come into this ballpark against the Yankees and get a split, you have to feel good about things. Facing the best closer in baseball and scoring a run off him makes it even more special." The Mariners were four outs from losing their third straight game in the series when designated hitter Jose Vidro dumped a single into left field with two outs off right-handed reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Bloomquist was sent in to run for Vidro and lit out for second base on the first pitch to Johjima. He slid head-first, his right hand reaching for the base. The tag second baseman Robinson Cano put on Bloomquist appeared to be in time, and TV replays -- shown over-and-over again -- provided evidence that second-base umpire Gerry Davis missed the call. But the Yankees didn't argue, Bloomquist dusted himself off, and sprinted home on Johjima's hit into right field. "To be honest, I thought the play was close when it first happened," Bloomquist said. "When I had a chance to look at the replay ... well, the umpire called me safe so I was safe. Luckily, we don't have instant replay. It showed that he tagged me on my lower back or hip." But with the way things have been going lately, especially in the Bronx, the Mariners felt they had a good break coming. "It was the only break we got in four games here," Hargrove said, "and one of those things we were able to take advantage after it happened. It hasn't happened very often." Bloomquist said he has been on the other side of that play many times and it's not an easy call for the umpire. "We got a break and what we've been through, it was a well-deserved break, and came at a good time. We'll definitely take it." Judging from the noise the team made as it entered the visiting clubhouse, it was a big win, indeed. "Our guys battled all night and to win it the way we did, tha's one of those things you look at a month or two months from now and recall when [Beltre] hit that home run," Hargrove said. "It could be one of those things, sure. Will it be? I don't know. But our guys were focused tonight, where they weren't last night, and we battled all night long. It was a good game for us ... a good ending." When Putz struck out Bobby Abreu with the tying run on second base in the bottom of the ninth, it made Beltre's fifth home run of the season the game-winner. "I was looking for something I could hit into the gap and I think he threw me a cutter," Beltre said. "It's a great feeling giving your team the lead in that situation and it doesn't matter who's on the mound. "For it to come off a future Hall of Famer makes it even better." After being held to one run in back-to-back losses on Saturday and Sunday, Hargrove made a few batting order changes for the series finale. He moved Johjima to third, Vidro to second and Beltre to seventh. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do [for Tuesday night's game against the Tigers]," Hargrove said, "but it's ironic that Johjima and Beltre were the two hitting heroes tonight." "It doesn't really matter where I hit," Beltre said. "All I ask is for some protection behind me. As long as I hit the way I did tonight, I won't mind hitting seventh." Surrendering one run didn't beat Seattle starter Miguel Batista, but giving up two runs cost him a potential win. He was superb over 6 1/3 innings, but had to settle for a no-decision as the Mariners continued to struggle on offense -- this time against Yankees right-hander Matt DeSalvo, making his big-league debut. A 10-inning scoreless drought ended in the first inning when Ichiro Suzuki doubled down the right-field line and eventually scored on a two-out single by Raul Ibanez. The Yankees retaliated in their half of the first, when Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter singled back-to-back, putting runners on first and third with none out. An infield out scored Damon before Batista induced Alex Rodriguez to ground into an inning-ending double play. While the Mariners tried to solve Yankees right-hander DeSalvo, Batista had to throw zeros every inning just to stay even. He was up to the task until the fifth when Jorge Posada doubled to right-center with one out and scored on Doug Mientkiewicz's two-out double to right-center. Batista walked the next two batters and went to a full-count on Abreu before getting out of the inning with no further damage. Left-hander George Sherrill, the third of four pitchers used by Hargrove, picked up the win.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.