The Seattle Mariners continued to make the New York Yankees' trip to the West Coast as painful as possible Tuesday.
It wasn't just that the Mariners scored a 4-2 win that sent the Yankees to their fifth loss in six games on the trip. More notable was that New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez came out of the game after taking an eighth-inning fastball off his left hand.
He was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal. It will be a day or two before New York knows just how much time the No. 3 hitter will miss, but it's likely to be close to two months.
"It's a tough blow," said Rodriguez, his left hand heavily bandaged. He will fly back to New York with the team after Wednesday's game and will see the team doctors Thursday.
Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, who threw the pitch that injured Rodriguez, a 91 mph changeup, was downhearted when he learned of the injury, despite having earned his ninth win.
"I feel bad," he said. "That's not me."
Rodriguez was the third batter Hernandez hit in the space of five hitters, a happenstance he blamed on sub-par control.
To that point, he'd allowed only a first-inning homer to Curtis Granderson, but Hernandez said that, too, was caused by wildness.
New York manager Joe Girardi said he didn't think Hernandez was guilty of throwing at Rodriguez intentionally, and the rest of the Yankees clubhouse fell in line with that way of thinking.
"It was a changeup," the manager said, "and it was a close game. Alex was the tying run. He's not throwing that pitch on purpose."
Hernandez seemed to have the game in hand into the seventh inning, having allowed just one hit since the fourth inning while holding a 3-1 lead. But he hit Ichiro Suzuki with a pitch in the seventh, then hit two of the first three men up in the eighth, Derek Jeter and Rodriguez. Hernandez came out of the game at that point, and reliever Lucas Luetge allowed a run-scoring fly ball, but nothing else, striking out Raul Ibanez after knocking him down with a pitch.
"I was trying to change his eye level, but it wasn't supposed to be that close," Luetge said. "I was just trying to get him to look up a little so I could go outside."
The Mariners added an RBI single with the bases loaded from RBI leader Kyle Seager in the bottom of the eighth to put the game away.
"It was a good big-league ballgame, a great group effort," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "A lot of good things happened tonight. We've had a lot more 'complete' games since the All-Star break."
Hernandez (9-5) got the win, his fifth since his last loss on June 12. Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the ninth inning for his 11th save in 13 attempts.
The game began with dueling homers, the center fielder for each team going deep with no one on in the first, Curtis Granderson for the Yankees and Michael Saunders for the Mariners.
Seattle got nothing out of leadoff single in the second, but when Brendan Ryan opened with a hit off Freddy Garcia to start the third, the Mariners' offense kicked in. Saunders stung a single to right on which Ryan challenged Ichiro by lighting out for third base. Ichiro's throw was strong but late.
Jesus Montero snapped the tie with a broken-bat single over the infield, and then John Jaso hit a deep fly to center on which Saunders had no trouble tagging up and coming home for a 3-1 lead.
Seattle preserved that lead through the middle of the game, with Hernandez dodging bullets all over the place. He had to pitch out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, and he escaped the trouble imposed by Ichiro's leadoff double in the fifth.