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A-Rod breaks hand, Seattle beats Yankees 4-2

    New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez rolls on the ground after being hit by a pitch in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)

SEATTLE >> Even as Alex Rodriguez writhed on the ground in pain, he didn’t believe his left hand was fractured.

Turns out A-Rod was wrong, and now the Yankees will be without another of their star players.

“It’s difficult. Tough break,” Rodriguez said in almost a hushed tone after New York lost to the Seattle Mariners 4-2 Tuesday night.

Rodriguez broke his hand when he was hit by an 88 mph changeup from Felix Hernandez in the eighth inning. He went down in considerable pain. The Yankees said he has a non-displaced fracture of the hand, and there is no timetable for his return. He will be placed on the disabled list and will remain in Seattle with the team for the series finale Wednesday.

Eric Chavez, Rodriguez’s replacement at third base, had a similar injury in 2004. He was out for about five weeks.

“You hate to see a guy go down on something freak like that,” Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “I had a weird feeling it wasn’t good.”

Rodriguez was the last of three Yankees to get plunked in a five-batter stretch and that ended Hernandez’s night. He also hit Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter with pitches.

While not sharp, Hernandez had allowed only Curtis Granderson’s first-inning home run and worked out of jams in the fourth and fifth innings.

The sudden loss of control started when Hernandez hit former teammate Suzuki on the foot with a breaking ball in the seventh. He then hit Jeter in the arm to open the eighth and completed the trio when his 3-2 pitch to Rodriguez tailed up and in.

None of the Yankees felt any of the wayward pitches were intentional and Hernandez was apologetic.

“It was getting away. It was a changeup to A-Rod,” Hernandez said. “I feel bad.

Rodriguez has been durable this season after failing to play at least 150 games since 2007. He had played in all but three of the Yankees 97 games this year after playing just 99 last season.

But A-Rod’s production has fallen way off. He was hitting just .274 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs entering Tuesday’s game, although he was hitting .328 over his last 16 games.

With the acquisition of Suzuki on Monday to take over for injured left-fielder Brett Gardner, the Yankees appeared to be done with any big moves before the non-waiver trade deadline in a week. Losing A-Rod, though, could change that. New York’s main option at third base now is the injury-prone Chavez.

“We’ll just have to talk about it and see what we come up with,” Chavez said. “Whatever he asks me to do I’ll just give it my best shot.”

Rodriguez joins Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Michael Pineda and Gardner as key pieces of the Yankees puzzle who have missed time with injuries.

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