Yankees 6, Mariners 0
Giambi hit a solo home run, singled twice and drove in three runs, and Pavano pitched a five-hitter as the Yankees won their 10th straight, beating the Seattle Mariners 6-0 on Tuesday night.
“The bat’s coming through the strike zone a lot freer,” said Giambi, who is back to trying to pull the ball. “I’m not so tied up. It’s definitely paying off.”
This is New York’s longest winning streak since a 10-game run from June 30 to July 12, 1998. At 21-19, the Yankees are two games over .500 for the first time since they were 2-0.
“This is very satisfying because of where we were before,” manager Joe Torre said. “The fact we were eight or nine games below .500 makes this even more satisfying.”
Pavano (3-2) pitched his fourth shutout, his first since a seven-hitter for Florida at the Chicago Cubs last Sept. 10, and his sixth complete game. It was New York’s third shutout of the season, and the third time the Mariners failed to score.
“I didn’t want to get caught up on that,” Pavano said. “Before you know it, you start rushing and making bad pitches. I just tried to stay within myself.”
Giambi hit his fourth homer, sending an 0-1 pitch from reliever Matt Thornton deep into the right-field stands in the sixth. The 394-foot shot was his first since April 19 and put the Yankees up 6-0.
He was promised plenty of at-bats during the current nine-game trip. After Giambi’s average dropped to .195 last week, Torre and general manager Brian Cashman asked the former AL MVP to consider a trip to the minor leagues, a move than can’t be made without Giambi’s consent.
But he wanted to work out his problems with the major league club.
“Of course I was concerned that I was struggling, but I knew I didn’t have many at-bats,” Giambi said. “Your average isn’t going to look too sexy when you’ve got 30 at-bats and you go 4-for-34.”
Now, he’s 7-for-20 (.350) with four RBIs on the trip. Torre believes Giambi has been showing good signs and will continue to play this weekend in the interleague series at the Mets.
Rebounding from an awful start against Seattle last week in which he allowed four homers, Pavano didn’t allow a hit until consecutive two-out singles in the fourth by Richie Sexson and Raul Ibanez. All of Seattle’s hits were singles.
“He was tough,” said Sexson, who singled twice. “You never ever really got comfortable against him.”
Pavano struck out seven, walked none and hit a batter with a pitch.
“That was dominance,” Torre said. “He kept the ball down. He changed speeds real well, had command of the strike zone, and we gave him some runs to work with.”
It broke his skid of three straight starts without a decision, including a four-inning effort against Seattle last week at Yankee Stadium in which he gave up nine runs on 10 hits in four innings.
“I knew what mistakes I made in the last game,” Pavano said. “I was able to execute my pitches. I kept the ball on the ground a lot and I got some great plays. It was a great team effort.”
Julio Mateo (1-1) made his first major league start, allowing five runs and eight hits in five innings.
Rodriguez made it 5-0 in the fifth, lining a 1-1 fastball from Mateo 385 feet into Seattle’s bullpen behind the left-field wall. Gary Sheffield was aboard after a one-out single.
New York led 2-0 in the second after Posada and Giambi hit RBI singles.
Seattle RF Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-5, ending his 10-game hitting streak. … By taking the first two of a three-game set, the Yankees assured themselves of their eight series win at Safeco Field in nine visits. They’ve beaten Seattle in all five games this season and nine straight overall. … Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre left after five innings with a tight left hamstring. Team officials described the move as precautionary.