A blister on his right thumb forced Derek Lowe to leave his last outing after six brilliant innings.
Lowe, a 20-game winner in his first full season as a starter last year, appeared to be headed toward his 13th win of the year Tuesday against Oakland. He had allowed just two hits while striking out three without a walk in six innings before the blister forced manager Grady Little to go to his bullpen.
Though he was annoyed that he had to leave the game early, Lowe later said he understood Little’s decision.
“You have to look down the line,” he said. “You want to pitch every five days. That’s the key.”
The Red Sox have taken the first two games of this series, including Saturday’s wild 7-6, 10-inning victory. After Boston closer Byung-Hyun Kim blew a save with two outs in the ninth, Kevin Millar’s clutch two-out double off the glove of Seattle center fielder Mike Cameron drove home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.
Trot Nixon and Bill Mueller homered for the Red Sox, who have won three in a row to remain tied with Oakland for the top spot in the AL wild-card race. Boston is five games back of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
STANDINGS: Mariners - 1st place, AL West. Red Sox - 2nd place, 5 GB, AL East.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Ryan Franklin (9-10, 3.73 ERA). Franklin was solid in Tuesday’s 9-1 win at Toronto, yielding one run and five hits over six innings. The right-hander had surrendered 14 runs—nine earned—and 17 hits over nine innings in his previous two starts. He is making his first career appearance against Boston.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Lowe (12-6, 4.83 ERA). Lowe is 7-2 with a 3.29 ERA in 13 home starts this season. He is 2-3 with three saves and a 3.67 ERA in 16 career appearances, including two starts, against Seattle.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .335 avg., 94 runs and 30 SBs; Bret Boone, 31 HRs and 98 RBIs. Red Sox - Mueller, .328 avg.; Manny Ramirez, 31 HRs, 90 RBIs and 98 runs; Johnny Damon, 23 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Red Sox, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mariners - Seattle has not lost five in a row since a six-game skid last September. … OF Suzuki was not in the starting lineup Saturday, but wound up pinch-hitting in the ninth inning. … The Mariners have committed errors in a season-high four straight games. Red Sox - RHP Kim has blown three of 13 save opportunities since becoming Boston’s full-time closer. … RHP Pedro Martinez played light toss and ran before Saturday’s game. It is still not certain when he will make his next start after missing his previous outing Thursday because of a sore throat and fever. … Boston is 3-2 on its nine-game homestand.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mariners - 37-26 on the road; Red Sox - 42-21 at home.
INJURIES: Mariners - INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Thornton (elbow), 60-day DL. Red Sox - OF-DH Jeremy Giambi (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brandon Lyon (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Ramiro Mendoza (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL; RHP Bob Howry (elbow), 60-day DL.