Yankees 6, Mariners 4
“I always felt I would be able to get it turned around,” Olerud said. “Fortunately, I’ve been able to get some big hits here. But I’m just up there today trying to get a hit and score the run.”
George Sherrill relieved and retired Hideki Matsui on a weak grounder to first, then intentionally walked Ruben Sierra to face Olerud, who singled to right field. Olerud, who batted .245 for Seattle with 22 RBIs in 78 games before he was released, is hitting .333 (11-for-33) with 11 RBIs in nine games with the Yankees.
Olerud, a native of Seattle who plans to make his home in the area after he retires, got a standing ovation from the Safeco Field crowd of 46,530 before his first at-bat in the second.
“I think any time you’re with a new club, you want to do well and help the team win,” he said. “It’s a good feeling. When they pitch around the guy in front of you to get to you, you definitely want to come through with a hit right there,” he said.
Mariners manager Bob Melvin thought walking Sierra was his only option.
“Believe me, we didn’t want it working out that way,” he said. “Johnny actually hit a pretty good pitch.”
Sherrill was called up by the Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma on July 15, the same day the team designated Olerud for assignment.
“It was a good groundball pitch,” Sherrill said. “He just hit in the hole. Nine times out of 10, that is going to be an out.”
New York manager Joe Torre said Olerud is too professional to be mad at the Mariners.
“I’m not sure he thinks he was dealt a dirty blow,” he said. “He doesn’t seem like that kind of individual. I’m sure he was satisfied more so that he came over here and he got a big hit for us.”
Gary Sheffield and Williams homered for the Yankees (75-41), who won their fourth straight game to improve to a season-high 34 games over .500. The last-place Mariners (43-73) lost their third straight and dropped a season-low 30 games under.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter made an outstanding defensive play in the seventh to keep Seattle from taking a 5-4 lead. With two on and two outs, he dived to snare Dan Wilson’s grounder up the middle and tossed to second for the forceout.
Sheffield and Williams hit back-to-back homers in the first inning, and the Yankees made it 3-0 in the third when Jeter doubled to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, stole third and scored on Sheffield’s infield out.
With the Yankees temporarily going to a six-man rotation because Mike Mussina is coming off the disabled list Tuesday, Loaiza didn’t help himself in his competition with Orlando Hernandez and Jon Lieber for the final two spots. Loaiza allowed four runs, seven hits, four walks and a wild pitch in 5 1-3 innings, giving up 27th homer of the season, third in the AL behind Anaheim’s Bartolo Colon (30) and Moyer, who leads the major leagues with 33.
Loaiza, acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 31 for Jose Contreras, is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts with the Yankees. Contreras won at Fenway Park for the first time on Friday night and is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA for the White Sox.
“I thought he was better,” Torre said of Loaiza. “The one inning where they scored the three runs he got himself into some count troubles. I think the lack of command or trying to be too perfect hurt him.”
Loaiza was unhappy that he gave up a 3-0 lead.
“In that inning where I gave up three runs, I just wanted to get a ground ball and get people out,” he said. “But things didn’t go my way.”
Edgar Martinez’s RBI single began Seattle’s comeback in the third, and the Mariners took a 4-3 lead in the fifth. Jose Lopez, a 20-year-old playing his 14th game with Seattle, became the second rookie in two games to hit his first major league homer off Loaiza.
Moyer, 0-6 in 10 starts and 11 appearances since winning at Pittsburgh on June 18, gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Toronto’s Gabe Gross homered off Loaiza on Monday. … Seattle RHP Joel Pineiro, a 16-game winner last season, might not pitch again this season. Pineiro made his last start July 25 in Anaheim before being put on the 15-day DL with a strained flexor in his right elbow. He is rehabilitating his elbow and is not throwing. “Unless he’s 100 percent in our mind, we won’t run him out there,” Melvin said.