NEW YORK -- While the New York Yankees could exhale after learning that Andy Pettitte's back injury did not appear serious, the Seattle Mariners were relishing their escape from a ninth inning that felt like a playoff game.
Pettitte, the veteran left-hander, left the game with a back injury with two outs in the fifth inning. Four innings later, Tom Wilhelmsen survived a challenging encounter with Robinson Cano to preserve Seattle's 3-2 victory on Thursday night.
"Every time a guy feels something, you watch how it goes and lot of times hitters go through it and it's not a big deal." New York manager Joe Girardi said of Pettitte. "Tonight, I saw a drop in a velocity and that was a concern."
The Yankees officially classified Pettitte's injury as a tight left trapezius muscle. Pettitte said it was bothering him earlier and that when he finished the fourth his back had completely locked up.
After getting some heat and massage treatment, the back issue seemed to disappear. But after his first pitch to Jason Bay in the fifth, Pettitte said it locked up again.
Later, in his postgame interview, he said nothing was hurting and that it was unrelated to his lower back injury. However, he was uncertain if it would cost him his next scheduled start.
"I couldn't extend it at all," Pettitte said. "I felt like I was cutting everything off and really just throw slower than slow to tell you the truth."
By the time the Yankees made an official announcement in the eighth inning on Pettitte's condition, the Mariners led 3-2 with the go-ahead run coming on a solo home run from Michael Morse in the sixth off Shawn Kelley. That run turned out to the pivotal because Lucas Luetge gave up an infield single to Cano in the seventh that scored Ichiro Suzuki.
That was the only run allowed by five Seattle relievers in the final 3 2/3 innings after Hector Noesi was pressed into action because of a back injury to scheduled starter Aaron Harang.
After Noesi allowed one run and three hits in 4 1/3 innings, Oliver Perez, Yoervis Medina, Luetge, Carter Capps and Wilhelmsen held the Yankees to one hit in 10 at-bats with runners on base.
"It was awesome," Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said. "Every guy on the bench and on the field is into it. That was playoff stuff."
Ryan also said the game's intensity made him turn to second baseman Dustin Ackley at one point and say "this is awesome."
"That's as fun as it gets with Tommy there," Ryan said. "That just shows how awesome (he is)."
Perez stranded two in the fifth, Medina stranded two in the sixth, Capps left two on base in the seventh and one in the eighth. The hardest inning, though, belonged to Wilhelmsen, who allowed two stolen bases to Brett Gardner in the ninth.
With Gardner at third, Wilhelmsen struck out Jayson Nix on a foul tip and then, with first base open, pitched to Cano. After Wilhelmsen fell behind 1-0, Cano fouled off four consecutive pitches, including a curveball and a changeup, but the game ended when Wilhelmsen got Cano to hit a 96 mph fastball to Ryan for a routine out and his 11th save in as many opportunities.
"There was no way I was going to lose that game," Wilhelmsen said. "We got momentum and I didn't want to be that guy. Everything that you wanted as a ninth-inning guy happened there."
The go-ahead home run by Morse along with the strong relief showing gave the Mariners a series victory in New York for the first time in nearly three years. More important, it was their 12th win in 18 games and fifth in their last 13 road games.
"That was one helluva a series," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "Three tough games and you talk about this one here, getting that lead and then holding on to it. You've got one of the best hitters in the game making the last out. It doesn't get any tougher than that."
Wedge was ejected for the first time this season when he argued the final out of the second inning. After Ryan put his hand on his head in disbelief when first-base umpire Hunter Wendelstadt called his fly ball to right field an out, Wedge was ejected, though replays showed that Suzuki appeared to get his glove under the ball just before it hit the ground.
Wedge also seemed displeased at a check-swing strike three in the dirt to Raul Ibanez. That came two batters before Ackley's double to right field gave Seattle a 1-0 lead.
NOTES: The Yankees provided several injury updates. The main news concerned SS Derek Jeter and injured pitchers Michael Pineda and Joba Chamberlain. Four weeks after Jeter suffered another break in his fractured left ankle, the Yankees said it seems to be healing and he could shed his walking boot shortly. "They see the bone is going back together," Girardi said. "They say it's healing. I think he'll be out of the boot sometime shortly and then he'll go from there." As for Pineda (rotator cuff), he will throw 50 pitches on Friday, though the Yankees were uncertain if it would be in extended spring training or an intrasquad game. The Yankees want to build his arm strength back up to 100 pitches but believe he will pitch sometime this year. Chamberlain (rib cage) is eligible to come off the disabled list, but the Yankees are being cautious and giving him another week to throw a bullpen session and possibly make another rehab appearance. ... Wedge said Harang was injured sometime on Wednesday afternoon and described it is as one of those "fluky things." Wedge also said he gave no consideration to moving up rookie RHP Brandon Maurer a day to make the start. ... New York DH Travis Hafner remained out of the lineup with right shoulder soreness but seemed to have no issues while taking batting practice. ... New York C Chris Stewart was removed after the seventh inning with a groin injury but the team is uncertain if he will require a DL stint.