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Kuroda Better Than Mariner’s Cy Young Winner King Felix

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 11: Hiroki Kuroda #18 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first-inning against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on May 11, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 11: Hiroki Kuroda #18 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first-inning against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on May 11, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Raul Ibanez tried jumping at the first pitch
against Felix Hernandez, and that didn’t work.

Then he tried patience, and that failed, too.

So he went back to being aggressive, and that paid off.

Ibanez hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off his former Seattle
teammate with two outs in the sixth inning, leading the New York
Yankees over the Mariners 6-2 Friday night.

“When you’re facing an elite pitcher like him, sometimes the
first pitch is the best one he’s going to throw you,” Ibanez said.
“Then he gets nasty.”

Hernandez, his teammate from 2005-08, had just been given a 2-1
lead. He started Ibanez the same way in every at-bat.

“I was throwing that sinker for the first pitch,” he said,
before detailing the mistake that caused the homer: “That was in
the middle of the plate.”

Robinson Cano had four hits for New York, which overcame home
runs by Dustin Ackley and former-Yankee Jesus Montero to send the
2010 AL Cy Young Award winner to his first loss in four decisions
at new Yankee Stadium. On consecutive nights, New York beat Tampa
Bay’s David Price and King Felix, among the AL’s elite pitchers.

“I just think our guys are starting to feel better at the
plate,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Ibanez, who joined the Yankees a week after spring training
began, is hitting .268 with six homers and 19 RBIs. That followed a
slow exhibition season, which caused Girardi to make some
inquiries.

“They said it takes him a while to get going in spring
training,” the manager said. “Sometimes you find that with older
players.”

He had faced Hernandez only three times before Friday, saying
his most familiar view was seeing Hernandez’s back from the
outfield.

Hernandez (3-2) allowed 11 hits _ two short of his career high _
and four runs in 6 2-3 innings, his second-shortest outing this
season. He struck out seven and walked two, with his ERA rising
from 1.89 to 2.29.

King Felix had been 3-0 at new Yankee Stadium, allowing one run
in 24 innings. He weakened after Derek Jeter fouled off five
pitches during a 10-pitch walk in the fifth, which started a
stretch in which seven of Hernandez’s last 12 batters reached.

“I was thinking in my mind, `Keep working him, keep working
him. See if you can get this guy tired,”’ Girardi recalled. “I
think maybe Jete’s at-bat was the start of something.”

Hernandez needed 53 pitches to get through four innings, then 48
for the next 2 1-3.

“Derek can do that,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He
puts up long at-bats, but you just can’t give into it.”

Hiroki Kuroda (3-4) improved to 3-1 at home, giving up two runs
and six hits in seven innings. He fell behind twice, allowing
Ackley’s homer on his third pitch and then Montero’s opposite-field
drive to right.

“I had to regroup myself quickly,” Kuroda said through a
translator. “I just trusted myself and trusted myself and was able
to get through it.”

Cano had three singles and double. He is 12 for 20 in his last
five games, raising his average from .255 to .308. He is 14 for 34
(.412) against Hernandez in his career.

Cano’s first-inning single tied the game _ the first run off
Hernandez in an opening inning since July 22 at Boston.

With the Yankees trailing 2-1, Alex Rodriguez walked leading off
the bottom of the sixth, Cano singled and Mark Teixeira hit into a
force out at second. Nick Swisher took a called third strike, and
Ibanez lined the next pitch over the auxiliary scoreboard in
right-center.

“Kevin Long mentioned something to me before that third
at-bat,” Ibanez said, a reference to the Yankees’ hitting coach,
“told me I was rushing out there a little quick. I tried to
incorporate that into that at-bat, and it worked out.”

Andruw Jones added the first home run by a Yankees pinch-hitter
since Jorge Posada on Sept. 14, 2010, a two-run drive in the eighth
off Steve Delabar.

Montero returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since New
York dealt him to Seattle in January for pitchers Michael Pineda
and Jose Campos, both on the disabled list. Of Montero’s five
homers this year, he has pulled just one.

“I was thinking all the time, right field,” he said. “I tried
to hit the ball over there every time that I go to the plate. They
were making a lot of good pitches. It was a little tough, but I
finally got it over there and I hit that one really good.”

NOTES: David Robertson got two outs in a non-save situation, his
first appearance since wasting a one-run, ninth-inning lead in a
4-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday _ his first blown save as
Mariano Rivera’s replacement. Rivera was in the Yankees’ clubhouse,
walking without crutches but limping. … Hector Noesi, obtained in
the Montero trade, starts for the Mariners on Saturday against Phil
Hughes. … Blake Beavan, hit on an arm by a Miguel Cabrera liner
last Monday, will be pushed back from Sunday to Tuesday’s game at
Boston. Seattle will start Kevin Millwood on Sunday, followed by
Jason Vargas. … Jones hit his fourth pinch homer, first since
Sept. 12, 2010, for the Chicago White Sox against Kansas City.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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