SEATTLE — Finally, a series win.
And it could not have come at a better time.
The Yankees wrapped up a three-city, 11-game trip to start the season’s second half Sunday afternoon with a 6-4 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Rookie Clint Frazier’s two-run double in a three-run sixth snapped a 4-4 tie and the Yankees’ new-look bullpen turned in 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
By taking three of four, the Yankees (51-46) — who got two home runs from Didi Gregorius and one from Brett Gardner — won their first series since June 9-11 against Baltimore and finished the trip 6-5.
“That’s the one we wanted to get rid of,” Gregorius said of the Yankees snapping an 0-8-2 streak in their last 10 series.
Said Dellin Betances: “It felt like we hadn’t won a series in two months. Being able to take three of four from Seattle, they came in hot, it just shows the team we have.”
A team that, despite recently losing 22 of 32 games, sits 2 1⁄2 games back of the Red Sox in the AL East. The Yankees start a nine-game homestand Tuesday night against the Reds at the Stadium.
“We really had a hard time,” Joe Girardi said. “We had gotten pretty far over .500 [38-23 on June 12], but we fell and we were struggling and having a hard time winning games. To only be 2 1⁄2 out, we still have a ton of games in our division, you feel pretty fortunate.”
After lefthander Caleb Smith, making his first career start, failed to get out of the fourth, the bullpen took over. That sterling effort was led by Chad Green (1-0) who, pitching back-to-back days for the first time in his career, struck out three in 2 1/3 innings. That gave the 26-year-old righthander 30 strikeouts and one earned run allowed in his last 20 1/3 innings.
Betances and David Robertson pitched the seventh and eighth, respectively, and Aroldis Chapman recorded his 11th save. In the ninth, Kyle Seager doubled with one out and he went to third on a passed ball. Chapman, however, retired Mitch Haniger on a pop-up to second and struck out Ben Gamel, a thorn all series, to end it.
“It’s a dangerous bullpen,” Betances said. “These guys are unbelievable from top to bottom. I feel like Chad Green’s been our best guy, [Adam] Warren as well. It’s a very special bullpen.”
Gardner’s leadoff homer off Yovani Gallardo gave the centerfielder his 17th homer on the season to match a career best. Gregorius made it 2-0 with a shot in the second. Gregorius’ 14th homer of the season made it 3-0 in the fourth and gave the shortstop, who continues to play Gold Glove-caliber defense, the first multihomer game of his career.
“He’s as good as there is in the game,” said Chase Headley, who went 2-for-3 with two walks and is 17-for-45 (.378) with nine runs in his last 13 games.
Smith cruised through three innings but was knocked out in a four-run fourth, an inning that started with back-to-back singles by Danny Valencia and Robinson Cano and a walk to Nelson Cruz to load the bases. Smith retired the next two, but Gamel’s two-run single and Guillermo Heredia’s two-run double put the Yankees behind 4-3.
But the Bombers rallied in the sixth against lefthander James Pazos (2-3), another former Yankee, scoring three runs. Gardner’s RBI single tied it and Frazier’s two-run double off righty Tony Zych, brought in to face him, made it 6-4. Frazier, 16-for-48 (.333) in his last 12 games as he’s for now supplanted Jacoby Ellsbury, had been 0-for-3 to that point.
“I’m just glad I got enough of it to hit it 66 mph over the third baseman’s head,” Frazier, smiling, said of his soft liner. “It’s real ly fun to see things going our way right now. It wasn’t going our way earlier, but it’s fun to see the Yankees winning a lot of games again.”