NEW YORK — Felix Hernandez claimed a piece of the Mariners’ career strikeout record Saturday in a shaky effort when the bullpen closed out a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees.
Closer Steve Cishek gained his first save as a Mariner by stranding the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the ninth inning.
But credit a key read-and-react decision by third-base coach Manny Acta in the Mariners’ three-run fifth inning for this victory. Acta waved home Ketel Marte, who scored the tie-breaking run from first on a two-out single.
"They’re always anticipating that they’re going to score," Acta said. "We have to stop them. We try to teach them not to assume (we’re going to stop them).
"Marte deserves all of the credit because a lot of guys would have pulled and been comfortable at third base."
Let’s reset: The Mariners trailed 1-0 when Leonys Martin led off the fifth inning with a 413-foot homer to right field against New York starter CC Sabathia (1-1).
Luis Sardinas followed with a single and moved to second on Nori Aoki’s grounder to first before he seemed to short-circuit the inning with a base-running mistake.
Sardinas rounded third too far on Marte’s infield single and was thrown out before he could get back to the base.
Then the game turned.
Marte broke from first on a 2-2 pitch to Robinson Cano, who sent a hard grounder up the middle into center field. Marte was nearly to second when the ball got through the infield — and he kept on coming.
"I was running 100 percent," Marte said, "and I looked at Manny. He was sending me. That was a surprise, but when Robby got the hit, I was almost to second."
The relay throw to the plate was late and permitted Cano to reach second. That turned into the eventual winning runs when Nelson Cruz followed with an RBI double past third for a 3-1 lead.
"We’ve got to stay aggressive when we’re in that part of the lineup," manager Scott Servais said. "We’ve got guys who can run."
Cruz’s double finished Sabathia (1-1) and provided Hernandez (1-1) and a four-man bullpen relay with just enough to eek out a third straight victory.
Hernandez matched a career-high by issuing six walks and needed 106 pitches to complete five innings. Even so, he yielded just one run and, with four strikeouts, matched Randy Johnson’s franchise record of 2,162.
"You’re not going to believe me," Hernandez said. "In the bullpen, I was painting. Every pitch. Then when I came out for the game, it wasn’t there."
Vidal Nuno pitched around a leadoff double in the sixth, but Nick Vincent surrendered a one-out homer in the seventh to Carlos Beltran, which trimmed the Mariners’ lead to 3-2.
Joaquin Benoit, in his first appearance in eight days, worked around a two-out error in the eighth before Cishek made things interesting. He retired the first two hitters before the Yankees mounted a threat.
"I didn’t want it to be that sketchy after getting the first two outs so quickly," Cishek said. "But, hey, they’re not all going to be easy."
PLAY OF THE GAME: No question. The game turned when Ketel Marte scored from first on Robinson Cano’s two-out single in the fifth inning because third-base coach Manny Acta gambled and won.
Marte never broke stride as he rounded second after Cano’s single, and he and easily beat the relay throw from first baseman Mark Teixeria, who took the throw from center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
"The ball was to the side (Ellsbury)," Acta said, "and (Marte) runs very well. (Ellsbury) doesn’t have the strongest arm, obviously. So you have to challenge him. There are two outs."
PLUS: Cano and Marte also bailed out Nick Vincent in the seventh inning with slick double play. Cano handled a grounder up the middle and glove-flipped the ball to Marte, who made a strong throw to first…Nelson Cruz had two doubles, including one with two outs in the fifth that produced the eventual winning run…reliever Vidal Nuno executed a rundown play in textbook form in the sixth by trapping Andrew Romine off second after a leadoff double.
MINUS: Luis Sardinas over-ran third base in the fifth inning after advancing from second on Marte’s infield single. Sardinas was thrown out before he could return to the base…first baseman Adam Lind boxed a two-out grounder for an error in the eighth inning, which enabled the Yankees to put the tying run on base. Joaquin Benoit pitched around the error.
STAT PACK: The Yankees were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position for a second straight game. They also stranded 14 runners after leaving 12 on base in Friday’s series opener…Carlos Beltran had four of the Yankees’ 10 hits and drove in both of their runs. His two-out single started a threat in the ninth against Steve Cishek…The Mariners have won three in a row since ending a five-game skid… the road team is 17-4 over the last 21 games between the two clubs. The Mariners are 8-3 at Yankee Stadium, while the Yankees are 9-1 at Safeco Field. The Yankees make their visit this year to the Northwest on Aug. 22-24.
QUOTABLE: Steve Cishek retired the first two batters in the ninth inning before two singles and a stolen base put runners at second and third. Cishek jumped ahead 0-2 on Chase Headley, who then worked the count full.
The game ended when Headley grounded out to second baseman Robinson Cano.
"It’s just a sigh of relief," Cishek admitted. "Robby is very sure-handed. Headley put together a great at-bat. I got ahead of him, and I had three chances to put him away, and he spit on all three pitches.
"I did exactly what I wanted to do, but he was patient. I was just happy to get a ground ball to end it."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners
MARINERS CAREER STRIKEOUTS
Felix Hernandez (2005- ): 2,162
Randy Johnson (1989-98): 2,162
Jamie Moyer (1996-06): 1,239
Mark Langston (1984-89): 1,078
Mike Moore (1982-88): 937