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For the second straight night the Red Sox rallied from a large first inning deficit, but this time the rally wasn’t enough, as the Sox fell to the Mariners 5-4 at Safeco Field. In his worst start of the season, Josh Beckett gave up five runs in just five innings and dropped to 9-5 on the season. Reigning Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez went seven innings and gave up four as he improved to 11-10 on the year.
Josh Beckett performed his best John Lackey impersonation, starting off poorly before settling down. Ichiro Suzuki opened the bottom of the first up with his second home run of the season. After a single and a double, Matt Carp knocked in two runs with a ground ball single to center giving Seattle a 3-0 lead before Beckett had recorded an out. While Beckett was finally able to retire former Sox outfielder Willy Mo Pena, the next batter, Casper Wells hit a 2-run shot to left center to stake Seattle to a 5-0 lead. Offensively the Sox were held in check early on, amassing just a single through three innings.
As Josh Beckett settled down with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings, the Red Sox finally threatened in the 4th. After Jacoby Ellsbury battled back from an 0-2 count to work a walk and moved to second on a failed pick-off attempt, Carl Crawford got on base with an infield single. Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to first setting up the Sox with two runners in scoring position and one out. What followed was a controversial call that led to Terry Francona’s ejection. Dustin Pedroia hit a fly to Ichiro Suzuki in medium right field. Ellsbury, one of the fastest players in the league, decided to test the 10 time gold glove winners arm, and tagged. Ichiro’s spot on throw was clearly in time, but initially the umpire thought catcher Josh Bard bobbled the ball and called Ellsbury safe. However, after a discussion the umpires concluded that Ellsbury in fact was out, ended the inning. This lost run turned out to be the difference in the game.
In the fifth inning the Mariners once again found some success against Beckett. Jack Wilson opened the inning with a double and after a strikeout by Ichiro, a single by Franklin Gutierrez put runners on the corners with two outs. After Beckett got another strikeout, Mike Carp walked, loading the bases with two outs. But Beckett finished strong, striking out Willy Mo Pena to end the threat.
Perhaps inspired by this, the Red Sox offense finally started hitting King Felix. Marc Scutaro began the 6th with a triple and Jacoby Ellsbury made up for his out at the plate with his 20th home run of the year. After Carl Crawford flied out, Adrian Gonzalez singled. Then Dustin Pedroia launched a 2-run blast to cut the Mariners lead to 5-4. Singles by David Ortiz and Mike Aviles sandwhiched between a Josh Reddick strikeout, gave the Sox two runners on with 2 outs. But Jason Varitek lined out to end the inning.
The sixth inning would be the closest the Sox would come to hitting Seattle. A base hit off Hernandez in the seventh was erased with a double play, and a hit and walk were wasted in the 8th first by a double play and then when pinch runner Darnell McDonald was caught stealing. In the ninth closer Brandon League closed the Sox out 1-2-3 to record his 28th save of the year. The loss drops the Red Sox to 73-45, and with the Yankees win makes them just 1.0 game ahead.
*Though finally able to get a win, Felix Hernandez continues to struggle against the Red Sox this year, now 1-2 with a 5.31 era.
*Dustin Pedroia embraces the clean-up spot on the rare occasion he gets the chance. He now has 5 home runs in 47 at bats, with a 1.000 slugging percentage when batting 4th.
*Josh Beckett tied his season high for most runs given up with five. The loss made him 0-3 when giving up four or more runs.