Bronx, NY – Russell Branyan supplied the power, belting two home runs, and Felix Hernandez resumed his dominance of the Yankees, as Seattle blanked New York, 6-0, in the opener of a three-game series.
Branyan hit a three-run blast off New York starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (9-11) in the first inning and added a solo smash in the sixth, plenty of support for Hernandez (9-10), who came into Friday's contest having notched three consecutive complete-game wins against the Yankees.
Although he didn't go the distance, Hernandez managed to limit New York to four hits over eight solid innings, finishing with three walks and 11 strikeouts. The right-hander has now held the Yankees to three runs in his last four outings versus the club.
Burnett allowed six runs on a season-high 12 hits in seven full frames.
New York remained a game ahead of Tampa Bay in the American League East. The Rays lost in Oakland later Friday.
Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees' lineup, but was pulled for a pinch- hitter after just one at-bat due to a lingering injury. Rodriguez hadn't played in the last three games because of a strained left calf. He started as the designated hitter, and grounded out to third base to lead off the second inning before exiting with tightness in the calf. Austin Kearns batted for Rodriguez in the fourth and struck out.
Rodriguez's departure occurred with New York trailing by five runs.
The Mariners jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Branyan's shot to right-center field. Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a single and Chone Figgins followed with a walk, setting the stage for Branyan's power display.
"For every team, to get that early lead is crucial," Branyan said.
Seattle picked up another run in the third. Franklin Gutierrez stroked a two- out single, stole second and came home on a Casey Kotchman base hit.
Back-to-back singles by Matt Tuiasosopo and Josh Wilson put runners on the corners to begin the fourth for Seattle. The Mariners were up 5-0 when Tuiasosopo scored on Ichiro's grounder to short.
Hernandez ran into trouble in the fifth, but fanned both Ramiro Pena and Brett Gardner to escape a bases-loaded jam.
"He did what he was supposed to do tonight, especially with a lead early," Burnett said of Hernandez. "He got ahead and put us away pretty easily."
Garrett Olson pitched a spotless ninth for the Mariners...Branyan has 18 home runs this season...Seattle third baseman Jose Lopez went 0-for-4 to snap a 10-game hitting streak...The Mariners are now 7-3 under interim manager Daren Brown.