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Yanks hand M's 16th straight loss, 10-3

New York Yankees' Freddy Garcia pitches to the

New York Yankees' Freddy Garcia pitches to the Seattle Mariners. (July 25, 2011) Credit: David Pokress

With each start the last month or so seemingly a referendum on his hold on a rotation spot, Freddy Garcia keeps producing.

Turning in another solid performance, Garcia pitched the Yankees past the Mariners, 10-3, in front of 44,365 at the Stadium Monday nightin a game that was delayed nearly two hours at the start because of rain. It was Seattle's 16th straight loss.

Garcia, who held the Mariners to three runs and eight hits in 72/3 innings, said he was aware of the Mariners' streak. "You don't want to be the guy'' who loses to them, he said.

Said Derek Jeter, "We're aware they've struggled a little bit, but they have a good team and they're capable of winning a lot of games in a row.''

Does he feel bad for what they're going through? "Not when you're playing them,'' Jeter said. "Because when we're playing, we're trying to beat them.''

Garcia (9-7, 3.23 ERA) helped put the 60-40 Yankees 20 games over .500 for the first time this season. The Yankees moved to within two games of Boston, which lost in 14 innings to the Royals at Fenway Park in another rain-delayed game.

Garcia is second on the Yankees in victories, with one more than A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova and two more than Bartolo Colon.

"Outstanding again,'' Joe Girardi said. "On a day where you're delayed two hours, he kept ready and mentally stayed sharp. Went out and threw an outstanding game.''

In advance of Sunday's 4 p.m. non-waivers trade deadline, Brian Cashman will continue to scour the market for bullpen and rotation help this week, but Garcia has made the general manager's situation not as desperate.

"Freddy has been excellent," Girardi said before the game. "I don't know how you can ask any more from him."

"Freddy's fun to play behind,'' Jeter said. "He works quick, he throws strikes, which is always great for the defense. We expect him to keep us in the game. That's what he's been doing. He knows how to pitch. When Freddy came up, he reared back and threw as hard as he could, and now he's really turned into a pitcher.''

Garcia hasn't always received great run support this season, but he received plenty this time.

Mark Teixeira had two hits, including a two-run homer into the second deck in leftfield off lefthander Justin Vargas in the first inning, and three RBIs. "I hit that really good . . . probably the best ball I've hit righthanded here,'' he said. He tied Curtis Granderson for the team lead in home runs with 27 and has 75 RBIs. Granderson delivered two sacrifice flies and has a career-high 76 runs batted in.

Jeter (three RBIs) homered and tripled, giving him 3,017 hits and moving him within three of Rafael Palmeiro. Brett Gardner and Eduardo Nuñez each had two hits and an RBI.

The Yankees blew it open with a five-run fourth, with four of the runs unearned. With one out, third baseman Adam Kennedy booted Russell Martin's grounder and Andruw Jones reached on an infield single. RBI singles by Nuñez and Gardner made it 5-1, bringing Jeter to the plate for the night's oddest play.

With the infield in, Jeter sent a ground smash to second baseman Dustin Ackley. The rookie looked to second, but with Gardner already by him, he decided against trying to start a potential 4-6-3 double play. Instead, he fired home, but his throw landed about eight feet short of the plate and struck Jeter's bat. The ball caromed to the backstop, allowing Nuñez to score. Granderson's sacrifice fly and Teixeira's RBI single gave the Yankees an 8-1 lead.

Granderson added a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Jeter lined a two-out RBI triple to right in the eighth to drive in Nuñez, who had doubled.

Before the game, Girardi said his team wasn't taking anything for granted against baseball's worst team. "You have to believe they're going to be playing extremely hard because of the motivation to end this streak," he said. "I would throw out that they've lost 15 in a row."

Make that 16.

With Kimberley A. Martin

New York Sports