Yanks' win streak halted by Bonderman, Mariners
Kuroda stumbles in fourth inning, allowing four runs with two outs
SEATTLE -- The command of Hiroki Kuroda's slider vanished in the fourth inning on Friday, just long enough for the Mariners to take advantage and put themselves in position to catch a lucky break.
Seattle batted around for four runs in the inning, and Jeremy Bonderman made the output hold up for his first big league victory in more than two years, handing the Yankees a 4-1 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.
"That inning, nothing worked," Yankees catcher Chris Stewart said. "We tried everything. It didn't seem like he could figure anything out at that point. It's tough; he should have only given up two runs."
The Yankees' four-game winning streak was snapped as all of Seattle's damage in the fourth inning came with two outs, with Brett Gardner opening the door by misplaying a deep Michael Morse drive to left-center field that hopped the wall for a ground-rule double.
Kuroda was unable to put an end to the problem, walking the next two hitters to load the bases, and Brendan Ryan cashed Seattle's first two runs by dropping a single in front of Ichiro Suzuki in right field.
"The way Gardner and Ich play, you just hold your breath any time they start to make an aggressive move towards the ball," Ryan said. "I was definitely glad to see it hit some grass."
Endy Chavez followed with a ground ball up the middle that should have allowed Kuroda to escape the inning, but it struck the second-base bag and shot into the outfield grass, loading the bases once more.
"He's so consistent with his stuff, and he kind of lost his strike slider," manager Joe Girardi said. "Then he gets a bad break, a ball hits the bag. He's probably out of that inning [if the ball didn't hit the base]."
"You know, it's part of baseball so you can't really help it," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "The more important thing was to make sure I got the out from the next hitter, but I couldn't really do that."
Jason Bay made Kuroda pay for his misfortune and less than pinpoint command, slashing a high slider into left field for a two-run single that gave the Mariners a three-run advantage.
"I didn't want to make a big inning out of it, but at the same time, I didn't want to give up that one run lead," Kuroda said. "So as a result, I got too careful and pitched around too much."
The four-run frame was enough as Bonderman posted his first Major League victory since Sept. 8, 2010, when he was with the Tigers.
Bonderman limited New York's lineup to a run on three hits over six innings of work, permitting only Travis Hafner's first-inning RBI groundout.
"I just slowed it down," Bonderman said. "I didn't try to do too much. I just tried to slow the game down, stay in the bottom half of the zone and let the guys behind me do the work."
The Yankees ran themselves out of the second inning, as Reid Brignac missed a bunt and Vernon Wells was thrown out trying to steal third base. Bonderman responded by retiring 14 of the final 15 batters he faced in a 97-pitch performance.
"The first couple innings, he had a hard time throwing strikes," Girardi said. "It seemed like he got in some long counts, but then he seemed to really find the strike zone. He used his slider pretty effectively and his sinker as well."
Stewart said that despite Bonderman's long big league layoff, pitching just his second big league game after having Tommy John surgery in April 2012, the Yankees were not fast-forwarding to knocking the veteran around.
"He obviously knows how to pitch," Stewart said. "He's been there before. We didn't take him for granted, that's for sure. He just pitched well enough to get a win today."
Yoervis Medina hurled 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and Charlie Furbush entered to strike out Robinson Cano looking with a runner on base in the eighth.
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched around a Kevin Youkilis double in the ninth inning -- the Yanks' first hit since Brignac's fifth-inning single off Bonderman -- to record his 15th save.
Moments later, Girardi's postgame commentary from his office was sparse, concluding with a shrug of defeat that summed up the general tone of the night from the visitors' perspective.
"Not a whole lot happened," Girardi said.