Red Sox 8, Mariners 7
BOSTON (AP)—Manny Ramirez finally has his offense going, and he stood still to admire his work.
Coming off the worst April of his 14-year career, the Red Sox slugger broke an eighth-inning tie with his second homer, leading Boston to an 8-7 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
When the ball flew off his bat toward the right-center field bleachers, Ramirez stood in the batter’s box for four seconds. When it landed there, beyond Boston’s bullpen, he was just 10 feet down the first-base line before starting to run.
“The timing was perfect,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He absolutely leaned on it. He hit that ball like a power left-hand hitter. I can see why he probably admired it.”
After Seattle blew a 5-0 lead, admiration was the furthest thing from manager Mike Hargrove’s mind for the call on a 2-1 pitch, when the umpires ruled Ramirez checked his swing. The next pitch was a called strike and Ramirez hit a 3-2 changeup from Chris Reitsma (0-1) for the go-ahead homer, helped by a wind blowing from left to right.
“We had Manny struck out, plain and simple,” an angry Hargrove said.
Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out just one batter in five innings as he struggled with his control for the second consecutive game. He walked the first three batters and trailed 5-0 after one inning. Boston took a 7-5 lead then allowed Seattle to retie the game before Ramirez’s 475th homer.
His .202 batting average in April was his lowest ever for that month. And he was in a 2-for-23 slump before getting two hits in each of his last four games.
“His track record says when he gets hot he doesn’t get hot with singles. He drives in a lot of runs,” Francona said. “He took some healthy swings tonight.”
Brendan Donnelly (1-1) got the win two days after his first loss in 10 decisions since Aug. 12, 2005. J.C. Romero got three outs for his first save as Boston stretched its AL East lead to 5 1/2 games.
Matsuzaka allowed seven runs, five hits and five walks. He has a 5.45 ERA and has walked 15 in 38 innings.
“During the past few games, the manager, the coaching staff and (catcher Jason Varitek) have all told me to be confident in my own stuff,” he said through a translator. “I definitely know that I need to change something.”
Pitching coach John Farrell said Matsuzaka’s body is getting too far in front of his arm during his delivery.
“He fought himself from the first pitch of the game,” Farrell said.
Seattle lost for the second time in nine games.
The game was a makeup of an April 12 rainout. The Mariners still have five postponements to make up, four of them because of snow in Cleveland.
For his second straight start, Matsuzaka walked the bases loaded then rebounded. He walked the first three batters and allowed the first eight to reach base. Then he retired the next 10.
In an 11-4 win over the Yankees in New York on Friday night, he walked the bases loaded in a four-run fourth then retired the side in the fifth and sixth.
Matsuzaka began Thursday’s game by walking Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre and Jose Vidro before Raul Ibanez grounded into a forceout at third as Suzuki scored. Richie Sexson was hit by a pitch, reloading the bases, and Jose Guillen hit a two-run double.
Suzuki stole second in the inning, setting an AL record with his 41st straight successful steal. Tim Raines had 40 from 1993-95.
The first six batters reached base for the Red Sox in the second, when they scored five runs to tie the game off Horacio Ramirez, who allowed the first seven runs.
“When you face a team as good as the Red Sox, you can’t fall behind and you can’t walk guys,” Ramirez said.
The runs scored on Varitek’s RBI single, Dustin Pedroia’s bases-loaded walk, Lugo’s two-run double and David Ortiz’s run-scoring single. Boston then took a 7-5 lead on Ramirez’s first homer in the fourth.
“The bullpen certainly threw the ball well enough to win the game,” Hargrove said.
Matsuzaka retired 12 of 13 before running into trouble again with one out in the fifth. He gave up a walk to Ibanez and a single to Sexson before Seattle tied it on RBI singles by Guillen and Betancourt.
Ramirez is 27th on the career home run list. … Boston RF Wily Mo Pena went 4-fvor-4. … When Betancourt tagged Ortiz between first and second base to complete a double play in the sixth, Ortiz gave him a big hug. … The only batter for either team who didn’t reach base by the fourth inning was Seattle 2B Jose Lopez. … The attendance of 37,216 was the largest at Fenway Park since World War II, although the club has added seats annually in recent years.