SEATTLE -- CC Sabathia got back on track and Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run home run to open up a close game en route to a 5-1 Yankees win over the Mariners on Tuesday night at Safeco Field. The Yankees evened the three-game series at a game apiece and knocked the Mariners back to two games out of the second American League Wild Card spot.
"It comes down to location for CC, and avoiding some of the bad breaks that he gets," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "And tonight we got him some runs, too. That always helps, too. I know what his ERA is, but I'm going to tell you, he's pitched a lot better than that ERA, I really believe."
Sabathia had his best outing in months. For the first time since facing the Twins on June 16, the lefty allowed only a single run. Sabathia faced the minimum in four of the seven innings he pitched, only scattering three hits and walking one.
"The story tonight was our offense just got shut down," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "That's the first time that's happened in a long time."
Mariners starter Taijuan Walker, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday, took the loss after allowing four runs, three earned, in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander gave up six hits and walked three in his first start back.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mariners tie it up: Down a run in the bottom of the third, Leonys Martin dropped a long fly ball into right field for his third triple of the season. Ketel Marte was up next, and his single up the middle easily moved Martin 90 feet across home plate. Seattle may have gotten more that inning if it hadn't been for a stellar reaction play by Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. Guillermo Heredia lined a ball down the first-base line, and Marte took off. But Teixeira jumped to snag Heredia's line drive and touched first for the inning-ending double play.
Ellsbury goes deep: Ellsbury -- serving as the Yankees' leadoff hitter -- stepped in against Walker with Ronald Torreyes on second base, and the center fielder unloaded on a fastball, sending it into the seats in right-center field to give New York a 3-1 lead with his sixth home run of the season.
"He plays every day for us, he plays a really good center field, he's had some big hits lately, some big home runs for us," Girardi said. "He hasn't hit a lot [of homers], but some of the home runs he's hit have been very big. So he was a big contributor for us tonight again."
Cano's got range: Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano made a diving stop in the grass to field Brian McCann's ground ball and get the first out of the sixth inning. Teixeira, who had doubled to start the inning, had to stop at third. It was a shining moment in an inning that turned south for Walker. He gave up a sacrifice fly and two more hits, one of which would have been an out if Marte could have gotten off a better throw after ranging to his right. Walker only gave up the one run before Vidal Nuno replaced him to face Ellsbury.
Yanks add insurance: New York made sure that Sabathia would emerge victorious by scoring late to pad the lead. In the ninth inning, Ellsbury reached second base on an error by Mariners left fielder Heredia, then scored on a ground-rule double by Didi Gregorius, giving the Yankees a 5-1 lead.
"I think tomorrow's a big game. You win another series, and I think that would be four out of five or five out of six, and I think that's really important, because we need to make up ground, and this is one of the teams that we're chasing." -- Girardi
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Masahiro Tanaka (10-4, 3.24 ERA) takes the hill against his former teammate in Japan, Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, on Wednesday at 3:40 p.m. ET. Tanaka is 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA in four career starts against the Mariners, and is 2-0, 1.69 in two starts at Safeco Field.
Mariners: Iwakuma (14-8, 3.78) will face the Yankees for the second time this season, and for the second time he'll be opposite Tanaka. On April 17, Iwakuma earned the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits in seven innings. Wednesday's series finale is scheduled to start at 12:40 p.m. PT.