NEW YORK — Tom Wilhelmsen looked toward the plate, facing Robinson Cano with the potential tying run at third base and two outs in the ninth.
"There's no way we were going to lose that game," the Seattle closer said. "Emotions were high."
Cano took a ball high and outside, then fouled off a pitch. And another. And another. And another.
Then he swung over a 96 mph fastball on the outer part of the plate and grounded it right to Brendan Ryan. The shortstop scooped it up and threw to first, finishing the Mariners' 3-2 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday night that gave Seattle its second win in the three-game series.
"That was playoff stuff right there," Ryan said, remembering when he looked toward second baseman Dustin Ackley. "I was like, `This is awesome. This is truly awesome.'"
Seattle emergency starter Hector Noesi pitched into the fifth inning in place of ailing Aaron Harang, who felt a twinge in his back Wednesday.
A 26-year-old right-hander, Noesi was acquired by the Mariners from the Yankees in January 2012 in the trade that sent promising pitcher Michael Pineda to New York.
Noesi, who had made four relief appearances for Seattle this year, gave up an unearned run and three hits in 4 1-3 innings, throwing 79 pitches in his first appearance since May 5.
"I haven't pitched for 10 days, and I was tired in the second inning," he recalled. "I said: `I've got to keep going.'"
Lefty Oliver Perez (1-0), his career revived in Seattle after getting released by the New York Mets in 2011, entered with runners at the corners and one out. He struck out Brett Gardner and retired Jayson Nix on a popup.
"That situation can change the game, so that was very important to get out there and give us a chance to keep in the lead," said Perez, who has inherited eight runners this year and hasn't allowed any to score, according to STATS.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge wasn't around to see it, at least not live. He was ejected in the second inning by first base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt for arguing at plate umpire Greg Gibson from the dugout on a called third strike against Raul Ibanez, who had homered three times in the first two games of the series.
Wedge wouldn't reveal what he said.
"He should have thrown me out," the manager maintained. "I would have thrown myself out if I had said that to myself."
Bench coach Robby Thompson managed while Wedge watched on television from his office as the tight game unfolded. Seattle held New York to 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
Carter Capps, throwing 98 mph heat, got out of trouble in the eighth after Curtis Granderson's one-out double by retiring rookie David Adams on a popup and striking out Ichiro Suzuki.
Wilhelmsen, perfect in 11 save chances, allowed a one-out single in the ninth to Gardner, who stole second and third. Wilhelmsen struck out Nix – leaving right-handed batters 0 for 30 against him this year. He faced Cano, who had a run-scoring infield single in the seventh, rather than walk him and pitch to right-handed hitting Vernon Wells.
"You've got one of the best hitters in the league making the last out. It doesn't get any tougher than that," Wedge said.
Seattle went ahead on Ackley's RBI double in the second off Andy Pettitte (4-3) but gave up a run-scoring double to rookie David Adams in the bottom half. Ryan, in a 5-for-60 slide, had a run-scoring infield single to shortstop in the fourth, and Michael Morse homered off former Mariners pitcher Shawn Kelley in the sixth, his 10th homer this season.
After going 12-17 in April, the Mariners are 8-4 in May.
"They should derive a great deal of confidence when you're facing these guys here in their backyard and you play the way we did and finish off and do what you need to do." Wedge said. "It's a great lift for them."
NOTES: Seattle OF Franklin Gutierrez (strained right hamstring) started a rehab assignment Thursday night at Triple-A Tacoma and went 1 for 5 with an RBI single. ... It was the first ejection of the season for Wedge and 33rd in his career. ... Pettitte left after 4 2-3 innings because of tightness in his upper left back.