Even blowouts are tense for the New York Yankees these days.
"It was a little scary," Rodriguez said Tuesday night after New York beat the Mariners 12-3 and boosted its AL wild-card lead to two games over the Mariners and 3½ in front of Detroit.
Wang smothered Seattle to get his 17th win and tie Boston's Josh Beckett for the major league lead. Jorge Posada homered twice, and A-Rod and Bobby Abreu also homered for New York -- with Rodriguez hitting a rare drive into the left-field upper deck.
But with the Yankees clinging to a small lead and already worried about Roger Clemens' sore right elbow -- which will receive a cortisone shot Wednesday -- New York is jumpy over any whiff of injury. So when Wang didn't bend on his first two pitches of the eighth, Posada went out to the mound and signaled to the dugout.
"It didn't look good," Posada said. "Something about it just didn't look right."
Yankees manager Joe Torre said the wait to come back during New York's seven-run seventh likely contributed to the tightness. Wang said he'd never experienced back stiffness before but he was confident he'd be ready for his next turn in the rotation. Because of two off days, he's not scheduled to pitch until next week at Toronto.
Rodriguez sounded more concerned. He was hurt in the seventh inning, when he slid into Adrian Beltre and the third baseman toppled backward onto his right leg, turning A-Rod's ankle. Rodriguez came out at the end of the inning, and postgame X-rays were negative. He wasn't sure whether he'd be able to play Wednesday.
"It's a little sore right now," he said. "I'll see how I feel in the morning."
Posada, Abreu and Robinson Cano had four hits each. Abreu was in a 2-for-15 slump coming in and Cano was in a 2-for-16 slide. New York, struggling to regain consistency in the season's final weeks, had 20 hits and busted open the game with three runs in the sixth and the big seventh, which made it 11-1.
With a victory in Wednesday's series finale, New York would open a three-game wild-card lead with 3½ weeks to play. New York had lost three of four since sweeping Boston. Wang's performance was key to the turnaround.
"Two-game losing streaks are a luxury," Torre said.
It was a close game for most of the night, with Hideki Matsui throwing out Beltre at the plate in the fifth to preserve a 1-0 lead. Seattle manager John McLaren said third-base coach Carlos Garcia couldn't be faulted.
"Carlos felt bad about it. It's something we can't take back," McLaren said. "Just one of those things. If you haven't been out there at third base, you don't know what I'm talking about."
Seattle lost for the 10th time in 11 games and was ensured of leaving town trailing the Yankees when the three-game series concludes Wednesday.
"We just got to bounce back tomorrow," McLaren said. "Two out, and all we need to do is get that streak we're looking for, get that streak at the right time."
Wang (17-6) allowed one run and five hits in 7 1/3 innings, throwing just 86 pitches. Inducing inning-ending, double-play grounders in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, Wang improved to 8-2 when pitching following Yankees' losses this season, winning his last six starts in that situation. He is 6-0 against the Mariners in his career.
Beltre ended Wang's shutout bid with a seventh-inning homer -- only the second by a right-handed hitter against Wang this year and the first Wang allowed to a right-hander at Yankee Stadium since Miguel Olivo connected on June 23 last year.
Posada put the Yankees ahead with a leadoff homer in the second off Horacio Ramirez (8-5), and Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 46th homer to make it 2-0 in the sixth, a drive that landed about seven rows into the upper deck.
"It doesn't matter where it lands," Rodriguez said. "It only counts for one run."
- A squirrel climbed the screen attached to the right-field foul pole for the second straight Tuesday night, prompting cheers of "Let's Go Squirrel!" in the bottom of the sixth before A-Rod homered.
- The only other righty to homer off Wang this year was Pedro Feliz at San Francisco on June 23.
- Doug Mientkiewicz entered at first base in the seventh, his first appearance since June 2, when he collided with Boston's Mike Lowell at Fenway Park, breaking his right wrist and sustaining a mild concussion and cervical sprain.
- Seattle CF Ichiro Suzuki was about to throw home on Cano's sixth-inning single to center, then changed his mind and threw to third. The ball went about 20 feet and landed on the outfield grass.
- Derek Jeter got just his third RBI since Aug. 13.
- Seattle's Wladimir Balentien hit a two-run double in his first major league at-bat.
- The Mariners tied the major league record with six pinch hitters in the inning. Detroit did it on Sept. 5, 1971, and it has happened four times in the NL.