Ricky Ledee hit a two-run, inside-the-park homer in the fifth inning and the Mariners fielded like Little Leaguers as they lost their eighth straight game to the Yankees, 11-5 Sunday.
"I won't say it's better than hitting one out of the park, but it was exciting," Ledee said.
Seattle must have embarrassed the players from the two Little League World Series finalists who were in attendance. The Mariners made two throwing errors on one play, allowing Joe Girardi score from first on a stolen base.
"That was sloppy," manager Lou Piniella said of the play and the game. "Losing eight in a row to a team is a little tedious. It's not too much fun to sit there and be on the losing end of it."
The Yankees have won six of seven overall to move a season-high 31 games over .500 and move one game ahead of Cleveland for the best record in the AL.
Andy Pettitte (12-9) allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings to win for the fifth time in six starts since the July 31 trading deadline. Pettitte has an 1.76 ERA in that span.
"You can't give in to them," Pettitte said. "We pouded Griffey in a lot and he chased some balls out of the zone. I tried to keep the ball down and away against Rodriguez. They are both great hitters, but we pitched them tough."
"If he gets close to it, you think he's going to get it," Ledee said.
But Ledee kept running and as Griffey leaped into the wall, the ball bounced just to the right of his glove and rolled back toward center field.
"Right before I got to second I saw the ball bounce away," Ledee said. "I got halfway to third and saw Willie (Randolph, the third base coach) all excited waving me around so I knew I had a chance."
Buhner came from right and picked up the ball as Ledee was hitting third. Ledee slid home safely well ahead of Bell's relay. Ledee took a curtain call and then slumped down on the bench to catch his breath.
"I couldn't talk to anyone, I was so tired," he said.
Ledee finished 3-for-3 with three RBIs. He became the first Yankee to hit an inside-the-park homer at Yankee Stadium since Deion Sanders on July 17, 1990, against Kansas City.
Ledee has 17 hits in his last 35 at-bats, raising his average to .321. The streak has solidified Ledee's spot in the lineup, just as Darryl Strawberry is set to return next week.
"It looked like he dug himself a hole he couldn't get out of," manager Joe Torre said. "He not only got out of that hole, he's one of our prime-time guys."
After Jay Buhner's homer made it 6-4 in the sixth, Seattle's defense gave the run right back.
Girardi walked and stole second. He advanced to third when Dan Wilson's throw in the dirt bounced past Bell into shallow right-center. With Girardi standing a few feet off third, Bell threw home and the ball skipped by Wilson, allowing Girardi to score. Wilson and Bell were charged with throwing errors and Piniella looked exasperated.
Steve Sinclair then walked O'Neill and gave up a two-run homer to Williams. Left fielder Brian Hunter turned this left, then his right before crashing into the fence face-first as the ball cleared the wall.
An error by third baseman Russ Davis led to two of the Yankees' runs in a three-run second.
"You can't keep making the same mistakes over and over again," Alex Rodriguez said. "When you play a team like the Yankees you have to play flawless baseball to give yourself a chance."
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