Red Sox 4, Mariners 3
“I definitely don’t want him to get a hit off of me,” he said.
Matsuzaka did a good job of making sure most of the Mariners lineup didn’t get many hits on Saturday night.
Dice-K wiggled out of some early jams and got offensive support from Manny Ramirez as the Red Sox snapped a nine-game losing streak in Seattle with a 4-3 win.
“Holding the other team while still allowing a few runners on base, that’s my true style,” Matsuzaka said through his interpreter. “That’s a day in the life for me.”
Matsuzaka escaped jams in the third and fourth innings, inducing rally-killing double plays. He continued his trend during the last month of losses followed by wins, pitching seven innings to pick up his 13th win of the season. Matsuzaka matched his season-high with 10 strikeouts and allowed just a pair of solo home runs.
“He’s still getting better,” Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. “We forget sometimes with how much he’s been heralded that he’s 26 and this is his first time here.”
Matsuzaka’s offense support came from Ramirez, who showed there’s still some speed left in his legs.
With two outs in the fourth, David Ortiz at second and Ramirez at first, Varitek lined a double into the left field corner.
Ortiz easily lumbered home, followed closely by a hustling Ramirez, who was running on the play. Ramirez barely avoided animated third base coach DeMarlo Hale waiving him home and scored ahead of the relay throw from Seattle shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.
Then in the sixth, Ramirez did damage with his bat. Boston battered Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn in the inning, with Kevin Youkilis doubling to start. Ortiz then hit a liner to right that Jose Guillen charged but caught on a hop. Youkilis paused to see if the ball was caught, then broke for third. Guillen’s throw sailed over Adrian Beltre and into the seats, allowing Youkilis to score.
Ramirez then ripped a double, driving in Ortiz.
“He’s been terrific. I’ve been telling anybody that wants to ask for a long time,” Boston manager Terry Francona said of Ramirez. “He’s been off the charts.”
Beltre and Betancourt both hit solo homers for Seattle, and the Mariners tried to rally late, but missed an opportunity to move into the lead of the American League wild card race.
Eric Gagne pitched the eighth in his second outing with the Red Sox and gave up a two-out single to Ben Broussard, who then stole second. Kenji Johjima followed with a line-drive RBI single off the wall in left field.
In the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon struck out Suzuki and Jose Vidro to start the inning, before consecutive walks to Guillen and Raul Ibanez. Beltre swung at the first pitch, but popped up behind the plate to end the game. It was Papelbon’s 25th save in 27 chances.
Washburn (8-8) pitched 6 1-3 innings, giving up four runs and eight hits. Washburn hasn’t won since July 4.
Beltre’s 17th homer of the season gave Seattle a 1-0 lead and Betancourt drove Matsuzaka’s first pitch of the seventh inning into the Red Sox bullpen.
But the Mariners missed chances in the third, fourth and sixth innings, allowing Dice-K to escape each time with runners in scoring position.
“He made some pitches and got out of jams. He showed me something tonight,” Seattle manager John McLaren said. “I was really impressed.”
In the third, Seattle had the bases loaded with one out and Guillen at the plate. Matsuzaka struck him out on three pitches, then got the struggling Ibanez to fly out to left.
An inning later, Broussard’s double and Johjima’s infield single put runners at the corners with one out. Jose Lopez was jammed, hitting a weak grounder to short that Julio Lugo and Dustin Pedroia were able to swiftly turn for an inning-ending double play.
The first two batters also reached base for Seattle in the sixth, but Matsuzaka used an infield pop up and two strikeouts to end the inning.
Barry Bonds’ record tying home run was greeted by a mix of boos and applause by fans when shown on the Safeco Field video screen in the middle of the third inning, about 15 minutes after he had homered. … Guillen struck out four times against Matsuzaka and has struck out in six of his last eight official at-bats in the first two games against Boston.
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