SEATTLE (AP) - In the early spring, Seattle pitcher Steve Delabar was working as a substitute teacher back in Kentucky.
On Wednesday night, he got the win against the New York Yankees.
Amazing what can happen in the span of five months.
Unheralded backup infielder Luis Rodriguez led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a solo homer off New York reliever Cory Wade, and the Seattle Mariners delayed Mariano Rivera's chase for the saves record with a 2-1 win over the Yankees.
Rodriguez, who doubled in his previous two at_bats, golfed a 2-1 pitch from Wade (5-1) into the right field seats and sent the Yankees off to Toronto looking to get Rivera career save No. 601 on Friday night against the Blue Jays.
He also handed Delabar (1-0) his first major league win, completing an unlikely journey from substitute to major league reliever.
``Once again, just to get in there and the situation, it's a situation I've been in most of the year late in the game and coming in that situation I feel comfortable late in the game like that,' said Delabar, who pitched the 12th. ``So to come in against the Yankees or the Royals or the Red Sox or whoever it may be, late in the game I feel comfortable. To end it like it ended, I guess it was good for me. It was a good feeling.'
Delabar was signed by the Mariners in late April and worked his way through the minor leagues this summer, eventually concluding his year at Triple-A Tacoma. He was called up Sept. 6 and made his first appearance last Sunday against the Royals.
But while the magnitude of Wednesday's situation was greater, Delabar remained calm.
``After playing the whole summer it's just another day at the major league level,' he said. ``It's pretty much what I've been doing all summer, just at a higher level.'
The 12th didn't start so well for Delabar, as he hit Robinson Cano on the foot. But he got pop outs from Nick Swisher and Jesus Montero, then got a defensive gem from Trayvon Robinson, who made a difficult diving catch on Brett Gardner's sinking liner to end the inning.
It was one of a handful of key defensive plays by the Mariners throughout the game. Ichiro Suzuki robbed Curtis Granderson of extra bases with a leaping catch on the warning track in the top of the ninth. Michael Saunders robbed Mark Teixeira of at least a double and possible a homer with his leaping catch just in front of the wall in deep right-center field to end the 11th.
But the biggest defensive play came early when Mike Carp was the beginning of a relay to throw out Andruw Jones at the plate trying to score on Eduardo Nunez's double in the third inning.
After Delabar had his moment, it was Rodriguez's turn. Rodriguez had hit the ball hard all night and turned on a 2-1 change up from Wade and managed to keep it inside the right field foul pole.
It was the first game-winner homer of his career and second game-winning hit this season for the Mariners. And he made up for missed opportunities Seattle had with runners in scoring position in the eighth, 10th and 11th innings. Seattle was 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
``We kept creating opportunities for ourselves, but just couldn't get that final hit until Luis stepped up for us,' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. ``He's a guy you want up in those key situations. We need more of that. He's got the right heartbeat and wants to be up there. He hit that one good. It wasn't a cheapie.'
Seattle starter Jason Vargas was likely one batter away from leaving with an impressive seven-inning effort and a chance at the victory, but pitch No. 101 was his downfall. After being careful all night, Vargas left a fastball over the middle of the plate and Swisher hit a shot into the Yankees bullpen for his 23rd homer of the season.
Vargas was replaced by Jamey Wright and walked off the mound biting the webbing at the top of his glove. Instead of just his third victory since July 1, Vargas was left with a disappointing no decision.
Vargas gave up three hits and struck out six in 6 2-3 innings.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova was Vargas' equal, throwing 7 1-3 innings and giving up just five hits. Seattle's only run off Nova came in the fourth when Carp scored after Nova saw a 1-2 pitch to Miguel Olivo slip and sailed behind Olivo's head. Russell Martin did his best, but the pitch glanced off Martin's glove and bounced far enough away from the plate to let Carp score.
``It was a curve ball that fell out of my hand a little bit,' Nova said. ``It's going to happen sometimes.'
New York also missed on a chance to gain another game on the slumping Red Sox after Boston lost at home to Toronto 5-4. The Yankees lead in the AL East remained at four games.
Notes: Seattle 1B Justin Smoak left the game in the fourth inning with a mild right groin strain. He was replaced by Kennedy. ... The Yankees decided not to have 3B Alex Rodriguez participate in batting practice on Wednesday, but the plan remains to have Rodriguez back in the lineup on Friday night in Toronto, Girardi said. ... Seattle SS Brendan Ryan missed Wednesday's game with a sore upper back that forced him to leave Tuesday's game early. ... ... Both New York and Seattle have off days on Thursday. The Yankees open a three-game series in Toronto on Friday, while Seattle hosts Texas. ... LHP CC Sabathia will start the series opener in Toronto.
The Associated Press News Service
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