|Alex Rodriguez personified New York's woes when he struck out to end the eighth. (TED WARREN/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
Yankee bats baffled
Seattle's Ramirez is safe at home
SEATTLE -- Alex Rodriguez hit a long drive off Horacio Ramirez, trying with one swing to snap the New York Yankees out of their offensive funk.
Instead, the deep fly landed in center fielder Ichiro Suzuki's glove and reminded Ramirez how thankful he is to pitch at spacious Safeco Field.
Ramirez pitched effectively into the seventh inning before four relievers stymied New York the rest of the way, and the Seattle Mariners edged the Yankees, 2-1, yesterday.
The loss left New York a season-high eight games behind the Red Sox in the American League East.
Ramirez (3-2) improved to 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in three home starts this season. He is 0-2 with a 13.17 ERA on the road.
Why the difference?
"The dimensions," Ramirez said. "I like that Alex can hit the ball pretty good to right-center and Ichiro caught it on the warning track.
"I wish I could pitch every game here."
Rodriguez's near miss in the sixth came one pitch after Derek Jeter's RBI single pulled the Yankees to 2-1. It also typified their offensive struggles of late.
"We need to get the swagger back, so to speak, and start playing and winning more regularly," manager Joe Torre said.
Ramirez tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run. He struck out only one, getting Robinson Cano looking at a called third strike leading off the sixth. But 14 of the 19 outs Ramirez got came on ground balls, and he was rarely hit hard. He didn't allow a base runner until the fourth, when Bobby Abreu walked with one out.
He was among the Seattle southpaws to fluster the Yankees during the three-game set. New York scored only one run and hit .171 in 20 2/3 innings against Seattle's lefthanded pitching. The Mariners improved to 4-3 against the Yankees this year.
"If our offense had shown up at any time in this series, things might have been different," New York's Johnny Damon said.
When Ramirez tired in the seventh, after consecutive singles by Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada, the Mariners' bullpen thrived.
Chris Reitsma, George Sherrill, and rookie Brandon Morrow combined to get five outs, with Morrow striking out Rodriguez on a 3-2 fastball with two on to end the eighth. J.J. Putz fanned three in the ninth for his ninth save in nine attempts.
Matsui doubled with one out, but Putz struck out Posada and Doug Mientkiewicz to end it.
Andy Pettitte pitched well for the third straight start but got little backing from New York's offense, which scored seven runs Saturday night.
Pettitte (2-2) pitched 7 1/3 innings, scattering nine hits and striking out two. His only mistakes came in the third and fourth. Seattle got three consecutive hits in the third, capped by Raul Ibanez's RBI single to score Suzuki. In the fourth, Jose Guillen led off with a double just out of the reach of Damon in center and scored on Jose Lopez's fly to deep left.