SEATTLE (AP)—Raul Ibanez doesn’t know when his final game will be and he’s playing like it won’t be anytime soon.
Ibanez’s home run—on a 0-2 pitch from Red Sox starter Jon Lester (8-5)— broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth. It was his seventh go-ahead home run this season and extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
“At some point last year (with the Yankees), I started acting like it was my last game,” said Ibanez, who turned 41 on June 2. “I asked myself the questions, `How would I act, what would I think about, how would I prepare?’ I wanted to enjoy it as much as I could.
“I’m 41. You can’t play this game forever. I used that approach. Hopefully, I can share that approach with the younger guys, telling them, `Hey, time goes by really fast. Enjoy this.’ `’
Ibanez needs eight more home runs to pass Ted Williams for the most home runs by a 41-year-old. Williams hit 29 at age 41 in 1960, his final season with the Red Sox.
“He’s found—almost—the fountain of youth,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s at 22 home runs tonight. Obviously, it speaks to a lot of hard work.”
Hernandez (9-4) held the Red Sox to two runs and six hits over seven innings. He walked two, struck out six and maintained his 2.69 ERA, second lowest in the American League behind teammate Hisashi Iwakuma’s 2.60.
“The offense came today,” Hernandez said. “Raul do the same thing he’s been doing for like two months, and we win the game.”
Hernandez allowed two or fewer runs for the 13th time in 19 starts.
“He wasn’t as tough as I’ve seen him in the past when he was throwing 96-97, but he still is a great pitcher,” Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “He goes out there and throws all his pitches for strikes and still gets of lot of swings and misses.”
Seattle pounded out 15 hits in winning for the fifth time in seven games. Boston has lost three straight, matching its season high.
Entering the game, the Mariners had just two hits in its previous 32 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and were on an 0-for-19 run. After three innings, the run had grown to 0 for 25.
Kendrys Morales opened the fourth with a hard single to left. Kyle Seager followed with a single that just ticked off second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s glove. The ball trickled into right field, allowing Morales to reach third.
With one out, Smoak finally broke the stretch of futility with double just inside the third-base bag. Morales scored and Seager advanced to third.
Mike Zunino walked to load the bases and Saunders walked to drive in Seager.
Smoak said failing to hit in the clutch is harder “because you want it so bad.”
“You put a lot of pressure on yourself instead of going up there relaxed looking for a good pitch to hit and putting a good swing on it,” Smoak said. “I’ve been watching Raul do it all the time, and (Kendrys) Morales and Seag.”
Ibanez’s leadoff home run in the fifth gave the Mariners the lead for good. He has hit eight home runs in his last 13 games and the Mariners have hit at least one home run in 16 straight games.
“I felt I executed that pitch fairly well, enough to not have that result,” Lester said of his cutter to Ibanez. “Obviously, he was sitting on it. It’s frustrating because it is 0-2, but it was the pitch I wanted to go to.”
Ibanez has 203 doubles and 149 home runs as a Mariner. He is one home run from joining Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Alvin Davis as the only Mariners with at least 200 doubles and 150 home runs.
NOTES: With RHP Jeremy Bonderman designated for assignment Monday, the Mariners need a starter Thursday. “We’ll be pulling someone up for that,” Manager Eric Wedge said. It could be RHP Erasmo Ramirez coming back from a triceps strain, or RHP Brandon Maurer who began the year with the big club. . Wedge said Tom Wilhelmsen has worked his way back into the closer role after a three-week absence for inconsistency. . The Red Sox were without Jacoby Ellsbury (left wrist) and Shane Victorino (left hamstring), so manager John Farrell said he had to go with a “makeshift” lineup. Ellsbury is working on a season-high 17-game hit streak and has a major league-high 36 steals. . LHP Andrew Miller is expected to have surgery for a damaged left foot ligament and likely will be out for the season.