Lee stymies Yankees yet again, Mariners win 7-4
NEW YORK—In the Bronx, almost nothing seems to faze Cliff Lee.
The Mariners ace beat the New York Yankees in their ballpark yet again, pitching his third straight complete game to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 7-4 victory Tuesday night.
Lee (7-3) beat New York twice in last year's World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies, including Game 1 at Yankee Stadium. He also won the ballpark opener for Cleveland in April 2009.
"Yeah, I like pitching here," Lee said. "I've always enjoyed pitching here."
This time, the left-hander gave up his first walk in almost a month, and a pair of solo home runs to Nick Swisher.
"The sun shines on a dog some days," Swisher said. "Any time you go up against a tough guy like that, all you're trying to do is get the barrel on it."
Lee also allowed two runs in the ninth, but calmly worked out of trouble.
He kept his cool earlier in the day, too, when his subway sped through the stop for Yankee Stadium. Lee handled it like a local. He got off and switched to a downtown D train going the other way. No big deal.
"I'm not afraid to take the subway," Lee said.
The only thing that appeared to bother him Tuesday was the walk he gave up to Jorge Posada in the second -- Lee's first since walking Nick Punto on June 2 -- five starts ago.
"He's pretty much the same every time you see him," Derek Jeter said. "He's a perfect example of a guy who's going to come after you. He throws strikes, not going to hurt himself, doesn't walk anybody."
It was Lee's fifth walk -- in more than 95 innings -- this season.
He threw 115 pitches and became the first Mariners pitcher with three complete games in a row since Randy Johnson in 1998.
Lee's time in Seattle could be much shorter than the Big Unit's. The Mariners, last in the AL West, may try to deal Lee because he can become a free agent after the season. General manager Jack Zduriencik said before the game that he would wait to see how the Mariners responded over the next month or so before making a decision on Lee.
"I'm a Mariner until they tell me otherwise," the left-hander said. "I'm going to continue to help the Mariners win every time I take the mound."
Rob Johnson hit a two-run double in the sixth and Ichiro Suzuki drove in a pair of runs with an RBI single in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Franklin Gutierrez homered for Seattle.
"Offensively, I thought that it was one of the more efficient games that we have played this year," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Yankees starter Phil Hughes (10-2) allowed seven runs -- six earned -- and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings. His previous turn in the rotation was skipped to give him extra rest.
"He's on turn, He's going to start Sunday and Friday," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The patient Yankees, who had won six of eight, entered with the highest on-base percentage in the major leagues at .359. But they produced little resistance against Lee, who yielded three earned runs in his 18th career complete game and fifth this season. He allowed eight hits and struck out two.
"I thought they had a real patient approach early, then came out swinging late," Wakamatsu said.
Before the ninth, Lee appeared to be getting stronger as he went along. He needed just eight pitches to retire the side in the seventh and nine in the next inning.
"We swung the bats against him tonight as good as we have the last three or four times we've seen him," Girardi said. "He just knows how to pitch and his command is very, very good."
Lee was traded to the Phillies during last season by Cleveland, which fell out of contention early. He got the only two wins for Philadelphia in the World Series, then was dealt in the offseason to Seattle.
Seattle also just reacquired Russell Branyan in a trade with Cleveland last weekend, and the slugger singled in his first at-bat for the Mariners this year.
NOTES: John Isner, who played a marathon match at Wimbledon that lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days before he finally beat Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set last week, threw out the first pitch. ... The Mariners activated C Josh Bard from the disabled list. ... Umpire Joe West, who criticized the Yankees and Red Sox for making games take too long earlier this season, worked the plate in a game that took 2 hours, 30 minutes. ... It was Swisher's first multihomer game since Sept. 8. ... Yankees OF Brett Gardner was out with a bruised wrist, though available to run or play defense. He expects to try swinging a bat Wednesday. ... Lee went the distance against the Cubs and Reds in his previous two starts.