SEATTLE - It was, at long last, the kind of night with the bats that many in the clubhouse swore would come.
Naturally, in this already injury-riddled season, it came with a caveat.
The Yankees, slumbering much of the month offensively, finally got going Thursday night, completing a three-game sweep with a 6-3 victory over the Mariners in front of 40,596 at Safeco Field.
It marked the first time since May 28 in St. Louis, a span of 12 games, that the Yankees scored more than four runs in a game. The beneficiary was rookie Chase Whitley (2-0, 2.41), who went a career-best 72/3 innings.
But Jacoby Ellsbury -- who extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a two-run homer in the first inning and robbed Robinson Cano of what might have been a two-run homer in the fifth with a spectacular leaping catch up against the centerfield wall -- left the game in the seventh with right hip tightness.
Ellsbury thought he aggravated a previous ailment while making the catch and in his next at-bat. "It was a little bit tight,'' he said. "I expect to be back in there [Friday night]. I think it [being removed] was the right decision."
Said Joe Girardi, "It just tightened up a little bit. We think he's a player for us [Friday night], but we'll see."
Ellsbury was replaced in center by Brett Gardner, who robbed Mike Zunino of an extra-base hit in the seventh with a leap at almost the same spot at the wall. (Whitley -- who said of Ellsbury's catch, "I thought it was gone for sure" -- said he already was looking toward umpire Mark Wegner for a new ball on Zunino's drive, again thinking he had allowed a home run.)
Ichiro Suzuki, who entered in the seventh in the outfield shift, caught Stefen Romero's drive to the rightfield wall in the ninth to complete a triumvirate of warning track catches.
Ellsbury played his leaping grab straight but Gardner and Ichiro appeared to have a little fun with their catches, as their body language momentarily seemed to indicate they hadn't been successful.
Dustin Ackley's long drive went off Gardner's glove for a double later in the ninth, and Logan Morrison followed with a ground-rule double off Shawn Kelley to make it 6-3, but David Robertson struck out Zunino and Brad Miller on eight pitches for his 16th save in 18 chances.
Whitley again was stellar, allowing five hits and no walks with six strikeouts. He has gone 114 consecutive batters without issuing a walk and has given up only three in 332/3 innings.
"The kid has been consistent with his stuff,'' Girardi said. "He doesn't beat himself, he doesn't walk people. He's done the little things. He's mixed in an outstanding changeup with his fastball and slider. He gets ahead in the count. He's done a really good job."
The Yankees had 10 hits, backing up what Girardi had said Monday. "I'm an optimist,'' he said. "I don't believe people forget to hit overnight. I've got to believe we're due to get hot."
For one night they did, led by Jeter. The 39-year-old shortstop, who turns 40 June 26 and entered the series in an 8-for-47 slide, went 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBIs. He went 7-for-12 with two walks in the series and lifted his average from .254 to .270.
The Yankees got on the board against lefthander Roenis Elias in the first. With one out, Jeter singled to right and Ellsbury drove the ball over the right-centerfield wall for his fourth homer and a 2-0 lead.
That made Ellsbury 24-for-61 to that point during his hitting streak.
Morrison hit a two-out homer in the second, but the Yankees tacked on two more in the third. Jeter singled and Ellsbury walked, and one out later, Alfonso Soriano ripped a two-run double into the gap in left-center.
In the fourth, after Brian Roberts walked, John Ryan Murphy singled and Gardner bunted them to second and third, Jeter slapped Dominic Leone's 95-mph fastball to right for a two-run single that made it 6-1.
"Wins haven't been easy to come by, so three in a row, we needed this,'' Gardner said. "We're feeling pretty good about ourselves.''
Said Jeter, "Seattle's been playing good. It's tough to sweep teams, but we got some great pitching here and were able to score enough runs."