Yankees ace takes perfect game into seventh, strikes out career-high 14. Mariners strike out 18 total times in stretching losing streak.

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NEW YORK — Rock bottom seemed to have been reached on a nightly basis by the Mariners ever since this epic losing streak stretched beyond the usual four or five games.

But monumental domination on Tuesday night at the hands of New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia just caused the ultimate Seattle faceplant into hard granite. Sabathia fought off two rain delays to hand the Mariners a 17th consecutive defeat, 4-1, in a game in which Seattle’s first hit was a Brendan Ryan single one out into the seventh inning.

About the only thing that appeared to slow Sabathia down was a pair of rain delays, the second of which occurred just before he walked three batters to open the eighth inning and was replaced. The Mariners were fortunate to get even one run off reliever David Robertson in the ensuing at-bats and wound up striking out 18 times against Sabathia and the bullpen on the night.

“When they get the lead late in the game, eighth and ninth inning, it’s pretty tough to come back,” said Ryan, who briefly silenced 46,132 fans at Yankee Stadium by ending Sabathia’s shot at a perfect game with his line drive single to left.

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But the game was truly lost for the Mariners when they couldn’t capitalize with the bases loaded and none out after the second of two rain delays — lasting 30 minutes and 14 minutes apiece — seemed to throw Sabathia off. Before that, Sabathia had struck out a career-high 14 batters in helping his Yankees fan the most hitters in a nine-inning game in franchise history.

The game’s key moment came when Adam Kennedy stepped in to face Robertson with the bases full and none out, worked the count to 3-1, then took a called strike from umpire Bob Davidson that appeared inches off the outside corner.

“That’s really tough,” Ryan said of the Kennedy at-bat and called strike. “A.K.’s been huge for us in those situations and I can’t be as colorful as I’d like to be because I don’t want to get in trouble. But he tried to battle.”

The Mariners haven’t gotten many breaks during a streak that now sees them tied for 17th place with the 1977 Atlanta Braves, 1962 New York Mets and the 1926 Boston Red Sox for the longest in major-league history dating to 1890. There are four teams tied for positions 13 through 16 with 18-game losing streaks, which the Mariners will reach if ace Felix Hernandez fails to salvage Wednesday’s finale.

Other than the rain, there was nothing getting to Sabathia, who had the fired-up crowd sensing history could be made by someone other than the loss-prone Mariners for a change.

Sabathia struck out the side in the fourth and fifth and then got Mike Carp to lead off the sixth inning before the first rain delay hit. That brought Sabathia one strikeout from tying an AL record held by several pitchers, but — after play resumed — Greg Halman got his bat on a two-strike pitch and popped out.

Mariners pitcher Doug Fister battled valiantly to keep his team in it, fighting off the first 30-minute delay and holding the lethal Yankees at-bay through most of his 108-pitch effort. Fister kept New York off the scoreboard until the fourth, when Curtis Granderson lined a ball over the left-field wall for a solo home run.

“For me, it was the same mentality as ‘OK, we had a long inning’ ” Fister said of the delay. “The rain delay wasn’t long enough to really worry about. It was just like we were hitting and had to go for a long time.”

Long offensive rallies by Seattle haven’t exactly plagued Fister this year. The Mariners have scored one run or less in 15 of his 21 starts.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge worked with Sabathia for years in Cleveland and said this was as good as he’s seen him.

“But we did have a few pitches to hit tonight that we missed and that’s sort of been the story of our season offensively,” Wedge said. “When you’re facing good pitching like that, you may get one good pitch to hit per at-bat. And you can’t miss it.”

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com

At a loss
The longest losing streaks in a single major-league season:
Team, season
24 Cleveland (NL), 1899
23 Philadelphia (NL), 1961
23 Pittsburgh (NL), 1890
21 x-Baltimore (AL), 1988
20 Boston (AL), 1906
20 Philadelphia (AL), 1916
20 Philadelphia (AL), 1943
20 Montreal (NL), 1969
19 Kansas City (AL), 2005
19 Detroit (AL), 1975
19 Boston (NL), 1906
19 Cincinnati (NL), 1914
18 St. Louis (NL), 1897
18 Philadelphia (AL), 1920
18 Washington (AL), 1948
18 Washington (AL), 1959
17 Boston (AL), 1926
17 New York (NL), 1962
17 Atlanta (NL), 1977
17 Mariners (AL), 2011
x-Started the season 0-21
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