Red Sox 9, Mariners 4

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SEATTLE (AP)—Even in jest, David Ortiz was right on. Again.

And this time, his fellow Red Sox sluggers were, too.

“I’m the greatest, that’s all I have to say,” Ortiz joked Muhammad Ali style while wearing nothing but a bath towel and a huge grin inside the Boston clubhouse Friday night.

Ortiz again proved to be the greatest home run hitter of the season—so far. His major league-leading 33rd home run, Manny Ramirez’s 26th and three more Boston homers off Jamie Moyer sent the Red Sox roaring past the Seattle Mariners 9-4 on an unusually hot night in the Northwest.

An evening game-time temperature of 89 degrees inside usually pitcher-friendly Safeco Field helped Boston to its season-high home run derby and fifth straight win. It pushed the Red Sox 3 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East. Boston, off to its best start since 1979, has gained three games on its arch rival in four days.

So what does that mean to manager Terry Francona?

“That we’re 3 1/2 games up, evidently,” he said. “The thing we do very well is stay in the present and focus on the next game.”

The five home runs were as many as the Red Sox had on their just completed, eight-game homestand. They entered the game tied with Tampa Bay for fifth in the AL with 119 home runs. Chicago was first with 141.

“This team will have its spurts … but we’re one of the best offensive teams around,” Kevin Youkilis said.

The homers were also a career high allowed by Moyer, who is in his 20th major league season. Seven of the eight runs he allowed in 4 1-3 innings were earned as Seattle lost for the fifth time in seven games since the All-Star break.

Moyer (5-9) has allowed 10 home runs in his last three starts. That’s more than he had allowed in 11 games combined before this month.

The five homers tied Mark Langston’s Seattle record from April 19, 1988, against the Chicago White Sox.

“They hit everything I threw up there,” a dour Moyer said.

Kyle Snyder (2-1) allowed five hits and two unearned runs in five innings in his third start since Boston promoted him from Triple-A last month.

Snyder, who walked two and struck out two, had his right calf cramp while warming up to begin the sixth. Francona and a trainer visited Snyder and then decided to summon reliever Craig Hansen.

Both Snyder and Francona said the injury was minor and will not keep him from his next start. One of the trio of Triple-A call-ups in Boston’s rotation in the last month blamed his ache on dehydration.

But he was drenched in offensive support—and confidence.

“Yeah, you get staked to six-, eight-run leads, it’s a lot easier to stay confident,” said Snyder, whom Kansas City waived last month.

Ortiz, who didn’t start Thursday for the first time this season, golfed Moyer’s 1-0 pitch in the first inning into the right-field bleachers of sold-out Safeco Field.

In the second, Moyer muffed Gabe Kapler’s leadoff grounder. Alex Gonzalez followed that error with a home run off the scoreboard beyond his team’s bullpen for a 3-0 lead.

Jason Varitek made it 4-0 in the fourth when he lifted Moyer’s low, 2-2 pitch into Seattle’s bullpen.

After Moyer walked Gonzalez on four pitches to start the fifth, Youkilis whacked Moyer’s thigh-high, 82 mph pitch for another homer and a 6-0 lead.

Ramirez made it 8-0 with a drive off the back wall of the Seattle bullpen following a walk to Ortiz. He followed his 10th home run in 50 career at-bats against Moyer by pantomiming double- and triple-clutching his front leg before a swing in the dugout, as if to recreate how anxious he was waiting to tee off on Moyer’s 80 mph stuff.

Yuniesky Betancourt had a career high-tying four hits for Seattle. Rookie Adam Jones’ double in the seventh off Hansen scored Betancourt for Jones’ first career RBI. Jones scored on Ichiro Suzuki’s single to make it 8-4.

Notes

Boston OF Coco Crisp broke an 0-for-15 skid with an RBI single in the ninth. … Gonzalez is 4-for-4 with three RBIs in his career against Moyer. … Suzuki stole second base down 8-2 in the fifth to extend his major league-best streak of successful swipes to 26. … The Red Sox announced they will promote LHP Kason Gabbard from Triple-A Pawtucket to start Saturday in his major league debut. He will replace RHP Tim Wakefield (strained upper back). … Mariners All-Star 2B Jose Lopez missed the game and will miss Saturday’s. He is in his native Venezuela tending to a family matter that is “not bad,” according to manager Mike Hargrove.

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