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Mariners edged by Yanks after Felix's strong start

Ace allows just one run in seven frames, but offensive woes continue

SEATTLE -- Chris Stewart's single off reliever Yoervis Medina brought former Mariners All-Star Ichiro Suzuki in for the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, and the Mariners couldn't respond against closer Mariano Rivera in a 2-1 loss to the Yankees at Safeco Field on Sunday.

Former Yankee Raul Ibanez gave the Mariners a chance when he got on base with a two-out walk in the ninth, and pinch-hitter Endy Chavez did his part with a single. But Michael Saunders ended the game with a flyout to left field, concluding a four-game series in which the Yankees took three games. Medina took the loss.

Starting pitchers David Phelps and Felix Hernandez battled to a standstill, allowing one run each in the second inning before settling in for a pitchers' duel that saw Phelps last six innings and Hernandez go seven.

It was a forgettable day for the Seattle offense, which mustered just six hits, only two of which went for extra bases. The Mariners threatened to take the lead when Alex Liddi hit a leadoff double in the eighth, his first hit of the season. But after a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Ryan moved Liddi to third, Jason Bay and Nick Franklin struck out.

"We can't keep watching this, we have to be better offensively," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "When we do create opportunities, we're not taking advantage of it. Having said that, we've got to create more opportunities. You're not going to come through every day, but we sure ought to do better than what we do right now."

The Mariners were without their typical lineup. Michael Morse had the day off to rest a strained quad, pushing first baseman Kendrys Morales to designated hitter. In Morales' place, Seattle used Liddi in just the second start of his career at first base. Meanwhile, Franklin, a rookie, moved up from the sixth to the second spot in the lineup.

Those three players combined for one hit and one walk, both by Liddi.

"I know we're beat up, I know we're tired, I appreciate that, but we've got to stick our nose in there and do a better job of fighting through at-bats," Wedge said. "We've got veterans out there, we've got young kids out there, regardless of where we're at or where they're at, we've got to be better offensively."

Hernandez had a slow start to the game, giving up a single to Brett Gardner -- who had four hits in the game -- on his second pitch and then walking Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells to load the bases. But he whiffed Ichiro to escape the 26-pitch inning unscathed.

"I was a little strong in the first two innings," Hernandez said. "It was all happening too quick. But after that, you just try to calm down and make good pitches."

He wasn't so fortunate in the second inning. Jayson Nix singled and stole second, and Stewart laid down a bunt single to put runners at the corners before Gardner singled to bring Nix home. The damage was limited, however, as Robinson Cano promptly grounded into a double play.

The Mariners answered in the bottom of the inning with Kelly Shoppach's double. The veteran catcher is batting only .198 on the season, but worked Phelps for nine pitches, blasting the final one to left-center. Ryan's single brought the catcher home, tying the game at 1.

"He was really good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Phelps. "Six innings, one run, we'll sign up for that every day."

Hernandez lived up to his reputation as a Yankee-killer, allowing only five hits with seven strikeouts in his seven innings of work. He entered the game with a career 2.99 ERA against the Bronx Bombers, going 7-2 with a 2.14 ERA over his last 11 starts.

It was Hernandez's 22nd career no-decision when pitching at least seven innings and allowing one or fewer runs, the most in baseball since his 2005 debut. Hernandez rarely gets much run support, and has received one or fewer runs of support in 91 of 252 career starts.

Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for
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