Yankees 9, Mariners 2

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SEATTLE (AP)—Chien-Ming Wang has become a “happy surprise” in 16 months with the New York Yankees.

Wang allowed seven hits in seven innings for his 15th victory, and Robinson Cano drove in three runs in Yankees’ 9-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

Wang has lost just once in nine starts since July 8 and tied Justin Verlander and Johan Santana for the second in the majors in wins—one behind Roy Halladay.

“No, I don’t think we could have expected this,” manager Joe Torre said. “You love those happy surprises.”

Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada and Jason Giambi each added two RBIs to help the Yankees win for the sixth time in seven games—all on the road. New York maintained its 6 1/2 -game lead over Boston in the AL East.

Wang (15-5) used more sinkers than in recent starts to quell any worries about him allowing 27 hits and eight walks in his previous 16 1-3 innings, spanning three outings. He credited mechanical improvements, such as keeping his pitching shoulder higher.

Not bad for a 26-year-old with 12 games of experience at Triple-A before joining the Yankees last season.

“We expected him to maybe go 13-10 and eat up innings,” Damon said. “He’s definitely stepped to the front.”

Torre marveled at Wang’s rapid rise to the top of the Yankees’ pitching staff. He is 23-10 since making his major league debut on April 30, 2005, and has made the Yankees all but forget injured or failed starters Carl Pavano, Shawn Chacon and Sidney Ponson.

“To have this kid come in and do this for us for the last year and a half, that’s certainly great for us,” Torre said.

The Mariners lost for the 12th time in 13 games, looking much more like the team that finished an 0-11 road trip on Sunday than the one that “upset” the Yankees on Tuesday night.

Felix Hernandez (10-12) lost his third straight start by allowing nine hits and seven runs in 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Four walks gave New York 13 base runners and only 11 outs against Hernandez, who impressed the Yankees last August by allowing just four hits in eight innings of a 2-0 loss to Randy Johnson.

This time, the Yankees jumped on the 20-year-old’s vaunted hard stuff.

“Every game I try to establish my fastball,” Hernandez said. “It was just missing the zone by a little today.”

Cano staked Wang to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-hop single that scored Bobby Abreu and Giambi. Hernandez threw 31 pitches in that first frame, after getting two quick outs.

“That’s what we do, wear out starting pitchers so then they have to throw us strikes,” Damon said.

The Yankees blew open the game with a five-run fourth. The second of three Nick Green singles loaded the bases. Damon then whacked Hernandez’s high-and-outside, 97 mph fastball for a single that drove in Cano and Cabrera to make it 4-0. Jeter followed with a fielder’s choice and Abreu walked to reload the bases.

Giambi, the designated hitter because of a sore hamstring, bounced a double over first base to score Damon and Jeter. Abreu scored on Posada’s single.

Wang lost his shutout in the seventh. Third baseman Green—starting for Alex Rodriguez, who was out with a throat infection—threw Richie Sexson’s infield single away for an error. Sexson eventually scored on Jose Lopez’s infield single on which Cano’s throw to first appeared beat Lopez.

Yuniesky Betancourt’s bloop single drove in Lopez to make it 7-2.

Posada had a sacrifice fly and Cano an RBI double off Joel Pineiro in the eighth to close the scoring.


Rodriguez was at the team hotel taking antibiotics. … Damon is now 10-for-16 (.625) with 21 RBIs with the bases loaded this season. … Seattle 3B Adrian Beltre left the game in the sixth inning with a sore neck—the result of his slide into second base Tuesday night that broke up and double play and sparked a tying rally. … Lopez’s RBI was his first in 20 games and 83 at-bats this month.

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