Yankees salvage one in Seattle with 7-1 win

Yankees salvage one in Seattle with 7-1 win
New York Yankees' Nick Swisher heads to first base at left as Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Jason Vargas watches Swishers' solo home run in the second inning of a baseball game, Sunday, May 29, 2011, in Seattle.
SEATTLE (AP) - Jason Vargas getting rocked again at home was an afterthought for the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

The bigger concern is what's going at the top of their batting order.

Vargas lasted just three innings and was knocked around for six runs, and Seattle's offense managed just a solo homer by Justin Smoak off New York ace CC Sabathia in the Mariners' 7-1 loss to the Yankees.

Seattle was trying to sweep New York for the first time in nine seasons. Instead, the day raised only more concerns about the slumps of Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins.

The duo were a combined 0 for 8 on Sunday and combined are hitless in their last 30 at-bats. Figgins doesn't have a hit in his last 19 at bats, while Suzuki's streak is at 11.

"He will have to work his way out of it," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "He's going through a tough stretch, (Figgins) is going through a tough stretch. We just have to work and try to help them work through this and fight through it and get back on track."

Getting Suzuki going is more difficult for Wedge and his staff to decipher solutions. Wedge admitted before Sunday's game that because Suzuki has such a unique batting approach, figuring out ways to snap the slump is tougher.

They'd better come up with something soon. Since standing at .312 on May 11, Suzuki's average has plummeted to .272.

Figgins is even more of a mess. He's got just two hits in his last 36 at bats over a span of eight games. He's hitting a measly .193 and his on-base percentage is just .235.

Suzuki had a chance to come up with a clutch hit in the fifth inning on Sunday against Sabathia, who he's fared well against in the past. But Suzuki tapped back to the mound to start a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and end one of Seattle's best scoring threats.

The Mariners only run came on Justin Smoak's solo homer in the sixth inning, his seventh homer of the season. Otherwise, Seattle managed just five hits off Sabathia.

"He is always good," Smoak said. "That is a guy you just try to battle and scratch and do what you can to get on base."

Vargas struggled with his control early and that was before he got tagged for five runs in the third inning. Nick Swisher hit his third homer of the season in the second, a line drive into the Yankees' bullpen in left.

But it was the third that broke it open. It started with Derek Jeter's second walk, although Jeter was later thrown out at home trying to score on Alex Rodriguez's infield grounder to third. Catcher Chris Gimenez made a nice play to grab a high throw from Figgins and get the tag on Jeter in time.

Jeter was the second out of the inning, but Vargas' problems were just starting. Cano singled sharply to right to score Curtis Granderson and give Cano eight hits in 12 career at-bats against Vargas. Swisher then walked on a 3-2 pitch that barely missed the outside corner to load the bases.

"Swisher's walk kind of changed that inning around for them," Vargas said.

Vargas got ahead of Jones 1-2 before Jones fouled two straight pitches. Vargas then left a cutter over the outside corner and Jones drove it into the right field corner clearing the bases, although replays showed the inning should have ended with the Yankees ahead just 4-0. Swisher was tagged out on the elbow by Gimenez, but home plate umpire Gerry Davis' view was blocked and called Swisher safe.

Eduardo Nunez then followed with a triple to deep left-center and Jones trotted home before Vargas finally got out of the inning. The Yankees sent nine batters to the plate.

"When you give them an opportunity to see that many pitches they will be patient and wait for you to make mistakes," Vargas said. "When you get behind them and they get runners on base, it makes it tight."

All three of Vargas' losses have come at home and his home ERA ballooned to 4.75 after giving up the six earned runs on Sunday.

Vargas in the only Mariners pitcher this season to fail to go at least four innings. He also got rocked in their home opener against Cleveland was done after 3 1-3 innings that night.

NOTES: Seattle RHP David Pauley got the day off after picking up wins in relief in the first two games of the series. He was the first pitcher since 2002 to win consecutive games in relief and throw at least two innings in both victories. ... Yankees C Russell Martin was given the day off due to the quick turnaround, but also because he fouled a pitch off his toe and it was sore, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ... After barely being used for 10 games, Seattle's bullpen pitched 15 innings in the three-game series and allowed one run.