video thumbnail

NYY@SEA: Kennedy singles for a walk-off win

SEATTLE -- Bloodied, but not beaten, the Mariners pulled off a 12th-inning victory over the greatest closer of all time Saturday with a 5-4 win over the Yankees' Mariano Rivera.

On a night catcher Miguel Olivo knocked himself out of the game with a headlong slide into first base in the 11th inning, the Mariners picked themselves up off the ground and beat Rivera, with a bases-loaded single by Adam Kennedy the winning blow in the 12th.

The win was the ninth in the past 10 games for the Mariners, who leapfrogged the Angels into second place and sit just a half-game behind Texas in the American League West with a 26-25 record.

"That was pretty crazy," acknowledged Felix Hernandez, who departed after seven innings upon fighting to a 4-4 draw. "But we did what we needed to do to get a big win."

Kennedy blooped a shot into short center field to score pinch-runner Luis Rodriguez with one out in the 12th for the fifth walk-off hit of his career and first since Sept. 5, 2006, with the Angels.

"He's the best of all time and you know you're going to have to fight for it," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of facing Rivera. "But Adam Kennedy has been doing a hell of a job. We had the right guy up there and he dropped one in."

After the first four batters in the Mariners' order had gone 0-for-18 to start the game, Justin Smoak singled and Jack Cust doubled off Rivera with one out in the 12th. The Yankees then intentionally walked Franklin Gutierrez to load the bases.

Kennedy was 1-for-13 against Rivera until he lobbed his winner in front of center fielder Curtis Granderson.

"You're just trying to survive," Kennedy said of facing Rivera. "You know what's coming. That's my second hit off him ever and the other one was just the same. It's not easy."

The loss was the first of the season for the 41-year-old reliever, who came into the game with 13 saves and a 1.71 ERA.

"That was the game," Rivera said. "I made good pitches and the ball found places. You can't do nothing. I wish we'd still be playing, but it's done."

The Mariners will shoot for their first three-game series sweep of the Yankees in Seattle since 1996 on Sunday with Jason Vargas against CC Sabathia. The last Seattle sweep in either city came in 2002 at Yankee Stadium.

The Mariners' relief quartet of Aaron Laffey, Jamey Wright, Brandon League and David Pauley gave up just three hits in five scoreless innings to set up the extra-inning victory in front of 37,354 fans.

Pauley pitched the final two frames, running his shutout streak to 15 innings and putting him in position for his second win in two days as he improved to 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA.

Olivo led off the 11th inning with an infield single, beating the throw from shortstop Derek Jeter as he dived headlong to the bag, his face smashing into the dirt in the process. Olivo, bleeding from the forehead, was replaced by pinch-runner Jack Wilson with Chris Gimenez then taking over behind the plate in the 12th after Seattle failed to score.

"I'm fine," Olivo said after doctors checked him out postgame. "I thought I broke my tooth, but this is a little thing. The game's on the line like that, you have to hustle. I just go and do my best and give it all the speed I have."

That play showed much of what these Mariners have become, an all-out group that is doing whatever it takes. Hernandez wasn't at his best against the Yankees, giving up four runs -- and a pair of home runs -- but he battled through a career-high-tying 128-pitch night to keep his team in contention.

"I just want to throw a close game because I know the guys are going to score," he said. "The last two and a half weeks, we've played great baseball. We're over .500 and that's awesome. We're together, we're doing a great job and we're picking each other up."

The Mariners, who have made a habit of coming from behind during their recent run, did it again Saturday, rallying from a 3-1 deficit against Yankees rookie right-hander Ivan Nova with a three-run fourth inning.

Seattle knocked Nova out with four hits in that frame, including a two-run double by Olivo and an RBI single by Brendan Ryan.

But Hernandez couldn't quite hold the 4-3 lead after walking Jeter with two outs in the seventh, then seeing Granderson launch a deep shot that Ichiro Suzuki appeared to misjudge as he leaped at the wall, only to see the ball ricochet away just to his left.

Hernandez also gave up a solo home run to Robinson Cano in the second and a two-run shot to Mark Teixeira in the third, just the fourth and fifth home runs he's allowed in 12 starts.

Once again, the bottom of Seattle's order fared better than the top. Olivo, hitting seventh, continued his recent hot spell as he went 3-for-5 with three RBIs to account for much of the Mariners' offense. Olivo has hit .414 (12-for-29) over the last eight games, raising his batting average from .203 to .243 in that span.

The other red-hot Mariner is Ryan, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI while also being hit by a pitch while batting ninth. Ryan extended his hitting streak to eight games. He has the second-highest batting average in the Major Leagues since May 5 at .411 (23-for-56), raising his season average to .268.

MLB.com Comments