With the Red Sox closing in on the first-place New York Yankees in the East and considered serious contenders to win what would be their first World Series championship since 1918, Schilling has been the staff’s clear-cut ace and been every bit as good as advertised.
The veteran right-hander has won each of his last five starts, including Sunday’s 6-5 victory over Texas. Schilling allowed three runs and five hits over 8 1-3 solid innings, striking out 10 without a walk to become the majors’ first 18-game winner.
Schilling went 22-6 in 2001 and 23-7 in 2002, but lost out on NL Cy Young honors to former teammate Randy Johnson both years. He is currently engaged in a three-way battle for the AL award with Minnesota’s Johan Santana and Oakland’s Mark Mulder, both of whom have 16 wins.
On Thursday, the Red Sox had their four-game winning streak snapped and suffered just their second loss in 16 games with a series-opening 7-1 setback. Boston fell 3 1/2 games behind New York in the division, marking the first time the Red Sox lost ground in the race since Aug. 23.
Rookie Bobby Madritsch quieted Boston’s potent offense with eight shutout innings and Suzuki continued his quest for the all-time single-season hits record by going 2-for-4 with a run scored, boosting his major league-leading batting average to .378.
Suzuki has 229 hits, leaving him 28 shy of George Sisler’s all-time record of 257, set in 1920, with 23 games to play. The Japanese right fielder, who is also riding a 14-game hitting streak, broke his own record for singles in a season with a base hit in his first at-bat Thursday. Suzuki had 192 singles as a rookie in 2001.
Seattle snapped a seven-game losing streak with Thursday’s win.
Boston has not lost consecutive games since Aug. 4-6.