Red Sox 6, Mariners 3; Mariners 6, Red Sox 4
BOSTON (AP)—Cla Meredith cruised through the Red Sox minor league system in less than a year, stopping at Triple-A for just three days before being promoted to Boston.
Then he found out all about Fenway Park.
Making his major league debut, Meredith gave up Richie Sexson’s wind-blown grand slam, and the Seattle Mariners beat Boston 6-4 in Sunday’s second game to split their doubleheader and end a seven-game losing streak.
“I saw that drifting and drifting and drifting. I knew then it wasn’t going to be an outcome,” said Meredith, who described himself as “pumped up but not nervous” about being thrust into a tie game. “I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any different.”
The 21-year-old Meredith, whose first name is pronounced like “clay,” had not allowed a homer in 42 professional appearances.
But he walked the bases loaded after coming in with one out and one on in the seventh. Sexson’s looping fly looked harmless, but right fielder Trot Nixon kept drifting over to the wall as the ball got caught in a strong wind coming from left.
It went over the short wall behind the Pesky Pole, about 325 feet from the plate, to break the tie and make it 6-2.
“It was a weird day,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “The ballpark played so big—except right there.”
Kevin Millar wasn’t so lucky in the early game: His long drive with the bases loaded was knocked down by the wind, but it hit the Green Monster for a three-run double and Boston won 6-3 for its fifth straight victory.
Millar has yet to homer this year, and the wind also might have cost Doug Mirabelli and David Ortiz a couple of home runs apiece. Ortiz barely cleared the Green Monster in the second game to make it 2-1, then he doubled into the wind in the sixth to tie it.
“You can’t mess around with Mother Nature,” Ortiz said, noting that it was Mother’s Day. “When Mother Nature says you aren’t going anywhere, you aren’t going anywhere.”
Ryan Franklin (2-4) snapped his four-game losing streak, allowing two runs, six hits and an intentional walk while striking out two in the late game. Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
John Halama (1-1) gave up one run and three hits and a walk in 1 2-3 innings. Meredith gave up three runs, two hits and two walks while getting just one out.
Wade Miller came off the disabled list to make his Boston debut in the second game. He allowed two runs and three hits in five innings while striking out six in his first game in the majors since he pitched for Houston last June.
Wiki Gonzalez, making his first major league appearance in almost two years, was 3-for-4 for the Mariners in the late game.
The opener of the split admission doubleheader was a makeup of Saturday’s rainout, and though every ticket was sold, there were several thousand empty seats as fans decided not to sit through 46 degree temperatures. Rain came during the late game to add to the spectators’ problems.
“It was as bad as anything I’ve ever played in,” Sexson said. “It was blowing in your face, dripping off the end of your helmet, batting gloves were heavy, your glove was heavy. It was miserable.”
But the wind had an even more detrimental effect on the Red Sox.
Ortiz had three long doubles and a homer for the day, with another long fly to right that Ichiro Suzuki caught above the wall. Mirabelli’s drives could have made the first game a blowout.
Jeremi Gonzalez (1-0) won for the first time since Aug. 19, 2003, pitching 5 2-3 strong innings in the afternoon game as a fill-in for injured Boston aces Curt Schilling and David Wells. Gonzalez allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out six.
He was 0-11 in his previous 15 starts.
“At one point, I thought: ‘This is it,”’ he said. “But right now I’m working hard and I’m going to keep doing that.”
Gonzalez, who had a no-decision in his Red Sox debut against Detroit on Monday, left with two outs in the sixth after giving up two runs in the inning. Three relievers finished up for Boston, with Keith Foulke pitching the ninth for his eighth save.
“(Gonzalez) was so effective early, we had a little bit of a cushion,” Francona said. “Now he’s given us two starts. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Joel Pineiro (2-3) allowed six runs on 10 hits and a walk, striking out four in seven innings. Suzuki reached base three times, stole two bases and scored two runs for the Mariners.
Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez left the first game after being hit by a pitch in the first inning in the upper left thigh by a 3-2 fastball. The Red Sox outfielder remained in the game until Jay Payton pinch hit for him in the fourth.
Francona said the cold weather made Ramirez’s leg tighten up so he left him out of the lineup for the second game.
But Ramirez pinch hit in the seventh inning and walked to load the bases. Ortiz doubled in two runs but J.J. Putz got Millar to pop up to end the inning.
Shortstop Edgar Renteria, nursing a sore finger, took both games off. … Miller was the eighth starter used by the Red Sox—the most in the majors. … Boston CF Johnny Damon extended his hitting streak to 14 games with first-inning hits in both games. … Former Red Sox SS Orlando Cabrera received his World Series ring before the Angels’ game against Detroit. … When the Mariners held a 2-0 lead after three, it was the first time in 50 innings they held a lead at the end of an inning.