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Ibanez cranks a three-run shot to right

NEW YORK -- The Yankees would love to take their recent success against upper-echelon talent as a sign that their lineup is finally clicking into place. At the very least, it breeds confidence they can beat some of the best in the league.

One night after the Bombers knocked around the Rays' David Price, Raul Ibanez's three-run homer helped power an 11-hit assault on Felix Hernandez as the Yankees toppled the Mariners, 6-2, on Friday at Yankee Stadium.

"I think that things are definitely coming around offensively; guys are swinging the bats well," said Ibanez, whose sixth-inning blast off Hernandez put New York in command. "We've been having some good swings together as a group."

Robinson Cano contributed four hits, including a first-inning RBI single, to back Hiroki Kuroda's solid effort as the Yankees posted their fourth win in the last five games. Andruw Jones joined the party late with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth off Steve Delabar.

The suddenly red-hot Cano owns 12 hits in his last 20 at-bats (.600), with eight RBIs in his last five games, a streak sparked by his grand slam on Sunday in Kansas City.

"Every time I go up there, I just go positive and say in my mind to get a hit," Cano said. "Here, it's all about winning. I just always want to feel good and win a game."

Four relievers finished the job out of New York's bullpen, including David Robertson, who logged two outs in a non-save situation to bounce back from Wednesday's blown save against the Rays.

"It's always good to get back out there after you've struggled your last outing, whether you're a pitcher or a hitter," manager Joe Girardi said.

Kuroda limited the Mariners to a pair of solo homers over seven innings, one hit by Jesus Montero, the power-hitting prospect dealt to Seattle by the Yankees in a four-player trade earlier this year.

Montero's sixth-inning laser was tossed back onto the field from the right-field seats, but otherwise the catcher was generally received with indifference by the Yankee Stadium crowd following a January blockbuster deal anchored by now-injured pitcher Michael Pineda.

"It looked like he hit a decent pitch there and drove it the other way," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "When you're in this ballpark, you're going to benefit from that."

Dustin Ackley's leadoff homer on Kuroda's third pitch of the game accounted for the other run off the right-hander, who has posted all three of his victories at Yankee Stadium this season and won for the second time in three starts.

"After the first inning, he really got it going," Girardi said. "He was up in the zone a little bit in the first inning, but then he found it from then on, and he gave us an outstanding performance tonight."

Kuroda scattered six hits, walking three and striking out two as he lowered his ERA to 3.56. He hopes that after a shaky beginning, the next few months promise more reliable results.

"It's what I've been doing all my life," Kuroda said. "I really hope that I can be real consistent, and it looks like it's beginning to be like that, so I'm happy about that."

The Yankees put a quick dent on Hernandez in the first as Curtis Granderson singled, stole second and scored on Cano's hit.

They kept chipping until Ibanez was able to launch a line drive over the right-field wall in the sixth with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira aboard, Ibanez's sixth homer of the year.

"One pitch, game over," said Hernandez, who had been 3-0 with an 0.38 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium before Friday. "I was throwing pretty good. I was commanding the strike zone with men on base. But that one pitch, if I could take it back, I'd take it back."

Believing runs against Hernandez might be at a premium, the Yankees flashed aggressiveness. Rodriguez was waved around third base by coach Rob Thomson on Teixeira's shallow single to left field in the third, but Mike Carp cut down Rodriguez with a good throw.

Ibanez agreed that the Yankees wanted to pounce when they could; hence his willingness to crack at a first-pitch fastball.

"I think when you're facing an elite pitcher like him, sometimes the first pitch is the best one he's going to throw you," Ibanez said. "Then he gets nasty."

One unsung hero of the game might have been captain Derek Jeter. With a fifth-inning, 10-pitch walk against Hernandez, Jeter passed Willie Randolph for fifth place on the franchise's all-time list with 1,006.

The at-bat may have been more important than noticed at the time, as Hernandez didn't seem to be quite so effective after Jeter gave him a tough battle.

"I thought it was a very, very good at-bat," Girardi said. "And I was thinking in my mind, 'Keep working him, keep working him, see if you can get this guy tired.' ... I think maybe Jeet's at-bat was the start of something."

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