NEW YORK (AP) - CC Sabathia had no trouble with the sputtering Seattle Mariners. The weather. Well, that may have prevented him from throwing his first no-hitter.
The Mariners flailed away helplessly against Sabathia in their 17th straight loss, managing only one hit and striking out 18 times overall in a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees on a rain-soaked Tuesday night.
``We'll never know. It could have. He was sharp,' Manager Joe Girardi said. ``I think his slider got a little bigger after he came back out.'
Sabathia did not allow a baserunner until Brendan Ryan singled with one out in the seventh inning in beating Seattle for the seventh consecutive start. He struck out 14 of the 25 batters he faced, seven in a row at one point before a 30-minute rain delay.
The big lefty was disappointed after giving up Ryan's hit.
``It was hard not to be,' Sabathia said. ``But you just keep it right there, it's still a 3-0 game.'
The Mariners are four shy of matching the Baltimore Orioles' American League-record 21-game losing streak to start the 1988 season. The 1961 Phillies dropped 23 straight for the modern major league mark.
Seattle will send AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez to the mound Wednesday.
``It's unfortunate that we're not having the ball roll our way but we're still coming in expecting to win,' Doug Fister said.
Curtis Granderson homered off Doug Fister (3-12) to put New York ahead 1-0 in the fourth and Mark Teixeira connected for his 100th homer with the Yankees in the eighth.
Sabathia (15-5) appeared to tire after a second delay (14 minutes) in the seventh. He walked the first three batters in the eighth before being lifted for David Robertson.
``After the second (rain delay) I lost my command, my release point,' Sabathia said.
Robertson struck out pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy for his 10th straight strikeout with the bases loaded this season before Chone Figgins hit a run-scoring fielder's choice to third base to make it 3-1. Ichiro Suzuki then struck out to end the inning.
Mariano Rivera struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 26th save and give Sabathia his major league-leading 15th win.
``They get a lead late in the game - the eighth and ninth inning - it's tough to come back,' Ryan said.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge told his team after its 10-3 loss Monday night to stay away from the ballpark early, moving back the bus until 4 p.m. for a start 3 hours later and canceled batting practice. Wedge also shaved off his mustache after Saturday's loss in hopes a change would help.
``We're just trying to do everything we can to help them snap this thing,' he said before the game.
What he couldn't do was keep Sabathia off the mound. The big lefty came in with a 0.82 ERA in his last six against Seattle - and he was even better this time.
``He was absolutely filthy,' Ryan said.
After Suzuki led off the game with a liner to center field, the Mariners did not get a ball out of the infield until the single by Ryan, who took the extra time in the afternoon to eat at the Burger Joint, a foodie favorite in a midtown hotel.
Really, they barely made contact, flailing at balls high and low, checking their swings and watching called strike three more often than making contact.
With storm clouds sweeping in over Yankee Stadium and lightning cracks eliciting gasps from crowd, Sabathia struck out six in a row in the fourth and the fifth innings - as fans abandoned their seats for the covered areas.
Rain began to fall in the sixth and became heavy as Mike Carp struck out, prompting home plate umpire Bob Davidson to pull the Yankees off the field.
Greg Halman popped out to first to break the strikeout streak.
``Striking out seven straight guys and doing it so quickly is as dominant as I've seen him in a long time,' Teixeira said.
Sabathia struck out the side in the seventh around Ryan's single to set his career high with 14 strikeouts. He walked three.
Granderson's homer was a drive to the opposite field that just cleared the wall in left.
In the fifth, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez - just activated from the 60-day disabled list - hit consecutive singles for a run and Derek Jeter made it 3-0 with a groundout.
Teixeira homered off Jamey Wright.
Fister gave up seven hits and three runs, striking out five in seven innings
``He had a fever about him,' Wedge said. ``He kept us right in the ballgame.'
Notes: The Mariners matched the 1926 Boston Red Sox, 1962 Mets, and 1977 Atlanta Braves with 17 losses in a row. ... Yankees setup man Rafael Soriano (right elbow inflammation) was back in New York. He could be activated from the 60-day DL as early as Wednesday.
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