Karns gets first win with gutsy effort vs. NYY

Mariners right-hander escapes jams in fourth and fifth innings

Karns gets first win with gutsy effort vs. NYY

NEW YORK -- Nathan Karns had to do a lot of wiggling out of trouble Friday, but the Mariners right-hander got the job done when needed and picked up his first win for his new club as Seattle topped the Yankees, 7-1.

Karns dug deep after putting two on with no out in both the fourth and fifth frames, striking out three in a row to leave runners on second and third in the fourth and then pulling another Houdini act in the fifth with a strikeout and two flyouts to strand Yankees at the corners.

The Yankees were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against the 28-year-old, who won Seattle's fifth-starter battle this spring and then allowed four runs over five innings to take a loss in his season debut.

But instead of thinking 'Here we go again' when the Yankees put runners on second and third in a 1-1 game in the fourth, he struck out Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury.

"One pitch at a time," Karns said. "We had a game plan, and even with the runners on second and third, I knew I just had to keep attacking."

Karns fans Ellsbury

Karns credited veteran catcher Chris Iannetta for helping him through that patch.

"Iannetta was really big for me back there," he said. "I don't know how many balls were in the dirt, but he kept the ball in front and kept the runners there. So it gave me an opportunity to continue to execute pitches and three hitters in a row kind of went my way there. It was big for me there, pushing through all that nonsense from the first game and this game."

Things got hairy again the next frame when Brett Gardner singled and Mark Teixeira walked, but again Karns responded by striking out Brian McCann, getting Carlos Beltran on a deep fly that Leonys Martin hauled in with a sprawling catch at the track and then a pop out to left by Dustin Ackley.

"Leonys made a huge play for me on Beltran, a double in the gap and he tracked it down," Karns said. "That saved one run at least, maybe two, and then I was able to get the next guy to pop out. Defense like that, coming up big for me in a clutch moment really helped me turn around that fifth inning."

Martin's tumbling catch

While Karns didn't have his best stuff, he impressed his new club with his gutsy five-inning performance.

"He had some traffic and pitched his way out," Iannetta said. "A lot of it's me getting a feel for him and him getting a feel for me. It's just finding out how to maximize his potential. He's got a lot of skills. He's got some good pitches. It's how do we get him through and how does he be successful night in and night out."

"Getting the punchouts through that inning [with runners on second and third] was huge," manager Scott Servais said. "Credit to him. He didn't really have the great fastball command tonight, but used a lot of the offspeed to get through it. And he made some pitches with the fastball deep in counts, so it was good. Good to get him through five."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.