Cishek's first save secures Hernandez's first win

Bullpen holds Yanks to one run over last four innings

Cishek's first save secures Hernandez's first win

NEW YORK -- His first save as a Mariner? Special for sure, acknowledged Steve Cishek after the 29-year-old sidewinder closed out Seattle's 3-2 win over the Yankees on Saturday in the Bronx, stranding runners at second and third with a game-ending groundout by Chase Headley.

And to preserve Felix Hernandez's first win of the year? Yeah, that put the cherry on top.

"It meant a lot because he's pitched unbelievable to start the season with three great outings," Cishek said. "He battled today and gave us a great chance to win. We all wanted to do whatever we could to get that 'W' for him. It makes it even that much more special, the fact we were able to do that."

Cishek's heart was already pumping a little faster than normal, given he finally had his first save opportunity in the club's 11th game of the season. The new closer had come into several tie games at Safeco Field, but this time he had a one-run lead and the chance to slam the door and give the Mariners their third straight win.

"Yeah, the first one you probably have a little more adrenaline than other ones, for sure," said the former Marlins closer, who now has 96 saves in his big-league career. "But I hope I have plenty more opportunities here. That's the bottom line. With this offense, I'm sure I will. I just hope I can make it a little cleaner next time."

Indeed, Cishek raised the tension level a few notches when Carlos Beltran looped a two-out single to left and Starlin Castro followed with a drive to the right-center gap that Seth Smith cut off in time to hold to a single. Castro then stole second without a throw to put the winning run in scoring position before Cishek retired Headley on a grounder to Robinson Cano.

"Beltran is a good hitter," Cishek said. "He saw the shift, I'm sure, and it's a one-run ballgame. He's just trying to do whatever he can to get on base, and it was a great piece of hitting. With Castro, I thought I made a great pitch to him, too, but when you're behind in the count, he can be dangerous. It was a good pitch, but a better swing. Smitty made a great play in the outfield, cutting that ball off. That pretty much saved the ballgame."

Credit the entire bullpen with saving the day in a game Hernandez was able to go only five innings before turning over a 3-1 lead. Other than a solo homer by Beltran off Nick Vincent, Mariners relievers kept the Yankees off the board, bolstered by the return of setup man Joaquin Benoit after an eight-day absence with a sore shoulder.

"They really did a nice job," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "[Vidal] Nuno has been key for us the last couple nights. Vincent hadn't pitched in a while, and it was a good opportunity to get him in there today. And it was really nice to have Benoit back. That really stabilizes things with him and Shrek in there at the end."

And the beneficiary this time was Hernandez, who has seen too many leads get away in the past.

"I was impressed," said the King. "Those guys shut it down."

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.