As theater, this was great stuff Tuesday at Safeco Field. Not particularly great or clean baseball, but wildly entertaining.
The end, though, brought only most heartbreak for the Seattle’s fading Mariners.
Victory slipped away when Fernando Rodney couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the ninth inning and defeat arrived in the 11th: Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer that lifted the New York Yankees to a 5-3 victory.
Stephen Drew tied the game with a two-out RBI double against Rodney in the ninth inning and started the winning rally with a two-out single in the 11th against Tom Wilhelmsen.
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When Brett Gardner followed with a double that moved Drew to third, the Mariners summoned Joe Beimel, who served up Jones’ game-winning blast on a 2-0 fastball.
This was a crushing loss for the Mariners, who have now dropped four in a row and find themselves 8 1/2 games behind first-place Houston in the American League West Division.
Yankees closer Andrew Miller gave up one run before securing the victory for his 16th save. Justin Wilson (2-0) got the victory after pitching a scoreless 10th inning.Wilhelmsen (1-1) was the loser.
It was a wild ride.
Austin Jackson had, perhaps, his best game as a Mariner by getting four hits, scoring one run and breaking a 1-1 tie with a two-out RBI double in the sixth inning.
There was an umpire show that resulted in, first, the ejection of Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, then manager Lloyd McClendon. And say this: Whatever fine comes to McClendon, he got his money’s worth.
McClendon ripped into all four umpires in turn and even recalled some classic Lou Piniella tiffs by throwing and kicking his cap.
It was all footnotes and prelude because Rodney couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the ninth inning against the bottom of the Yankees order.
Rodney issued a leadoff walk to Chase Headley but retired the next two hitters before disaster struck.
Pinch-hitter Brian McCann flicked a single into left that moved Headley to third, and Drew yanked a 1-2 fastball into the right-field corner for a RBI double.
Rodney did hold the tie and stranded runners at second and third by retiring Brett Gardner on a grounder to first.
Still, it was a blown save, his third in 17 chances, and snatched a victory away from Mike Montgomery, who worked six strong innings in his big-league debut.
It also took Yankees starter CC Sabathia off the hook for a loss.
The Yankees loaded with bases with one out in the 10th inning after Wilhelmsen failed to cover first base on a sharp, bad-hop grounder to first baseman Logan Morrison.
The result was an infield single for Headley, but Wilhelmsen escaped that jam when Carlos Beltran grounded into a double play.
The Mariners got a leadoff single from Kyle Seager in their 10th, but Rickie Weeks popped up a sacrifice bunt, and Wilson turned it into a double play.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia with runners at first and third with two outs in the sixth inning of a 1-1 game. Sabathia had worked around nine hits at that point while throwing 94 pitches.
Jackson lined a full-court fastball into center against David Carpenter for an RBI double and his fourth hit of the game.
But the Mariners settled for just one run; they left runners at second and third when Willie Bloomquist flied to right. That missed chance came back to haunt them.
The Mariners went to their bullpen in the seventh to try protect the lead. Mark Lowe replaced Montgomery, who allowed one run and four hits over six innings in his big-league debut.
Didi Gregorius started the New York seventh with a pinch-hit single, and John Ryan Murphy followed with a bloop single to right.
Then the Mariners caught a break.
Gregorius stumbled around second, tried to retreat to the base and was thrown out by right fielder Nelson Cruz. Instead of first and third with no outs, the Yankees had a runner at first with one out.
After Drew flied to right, Charlie Furbush replaced Lowe and struck out Gardner. Carson Smith pitched a one-two-three eighth, which got the game to Rodney.
The circus hit town in the third inning.
Gardner drew a one-out walk when, as replays confirmed, third base umpire Tony Randazzo whiffed on a check-swing appeal. Gardner had started back toward the dugout before tossing his bat and heading to first.
A wild pitch moved Gardner to second.
Chris Young fouled out to first before Alex Rodriguez walked on a check-swing on a full count. This one was close, but that’s when the fun started.
Zunino was certain that Rodriguez swung and headed toward the dugout — and then barked when first base umpire Will Little signaled no-swing. That got Zunino ejected, and brought McClendon out of the dugout.
When Little tossed McClendon, the party went viral. McClendon raged at Little and gave a blast to crew chief Phil Cuzzi, who came over from second. After some cap tossing and kicking, McClendon made his way to the plate.
Some sharp words for Mike DiMuro were just a prelude to McClendon’s main event: A confrontation with his nemesis, Randazzo, with whom McClendon has a growing history.
Finally, McClendon left the field.
Randazzo’s botched call, Little’s borderline call and the resulting argument didn’t help Montgomery, who served up a first-pitch RBI double to Mark Teixeira when play resumed.
The Yankees led 1-0, but the Mariners answered later in the inning when singles by Jackson, Cano and Cruz produced the tying run.