Mariners 8, Red Sox 7
Putz whiffed the Boston slugger on three pitches for his third strikeout in a perfect ninth inning to preserve Seattle’s 8-7 victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday night.
“It’s never a pleasant sight looking on deck and seeing Manny waiting for you,” Putz said. “I was able to get ahead of him and get him to chase pitches.”
Richie Sexson’s two-run homer in the sixth gave Seattle its third and final lead. The Mariners got a rare home run from Willie Bloomquist to overcome yet another shaky start by Felix Hernandez and win for the sixth time in seven games. They beat Boston for the seventh consecutive time in Seattle.
The Red Sox lost for the third time in four games despite Kevin Youkilis’ three RBIs. Their previously strong pitching has allowed 17 runs in the first two games of the series.
Putz earned his 22nd save in 22 chances this season and has converted 24 straight opportunities dating to last September, the longest current streak in the majors.
“He’s pretty good,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said, chuckling.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t even get the job until Eddie Guardado flopped early last season.
“He’s one of the best. We know that,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We’d rather have a situation where he’s not coming in.”
Putz is still new enough to the job that moments such as staring down Ramirez—just as the fireballer with fire-colored hair did last summer in an electric strikeout of Barry Bonds in the game’s final at-bat—are special.
Ramirez didn’t start for only the third time in 76 games this year, but everyone on the Mariners knew they might see him come off the bench late in this seesaw game. He grabbed a bat in the dugout in the eighth as Boston got to 8-7 on Youkilis’ sacrifice fly. Then, after Putz fanned Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek to begin the ninth, Ramirez pinch-hit for Eric Hinske—even though Hinske had homered earlier and is left-handed.
Three pitches—including a baffling, 86 mph curve—later, Ramirez and the Red Sox were done.
Sexson’s home run to the opposite field off Javier Lopez was his fifth in eight games on Seattle’s homestand. It also was the first home run allowed in 27 appearances for Lopez (1-1). He was only in the game because the reliever Francona preferred, Joel Pineiro, was unavailable because he twisted his ankle while stepping on Hinske’s heel during pregame stretching Monday.
Seattle rookie Brandon Morrow began the eighth by walking Coco Crisp, and Dustin Pedroia singled. George Sherrill struck out David Ortiz, who slapped his knee twice in frustration after swinging under a high fastball. Then Putz entered and got the final five outs.
An RBI single by Bloomquist and a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Ichiro Suzuki gave Seattle a 6-4 lead in the fifth. But Hinske, starting for Ramirez in left field, answered in the sixth with a homer off the facing of the second deck beyond right field to make it 6-5.
Alex Cora, starting because shortstop Julio Lugo is in an 0-for-29 slump, doubled. After a sacrifice and a groundout, Hernandez gave way to Eric O’Flaherty (5-0). Ortiz sliced a single off him that tied the game.
Hernandez allowed six runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings, the third time in five starts he’s given up at least that many hits. He struck out four, walked one and banged his hand to his glove about a dozen times in frustration. It was far from the masterful one-hitter he threw in Boston for a second consecutive scoreless outing on April 11, the start to which many Seattle fans keep comparing Hernandez—unfavorably.
“They were cold that day,” Hernandez said. “That lineup, it’s unbelievable.”
He is 2-4 with a 5.75 ERA in nine starts since that gem at Fenway Park, including the brief one April 18 in which he strained his forearm. He then spent almost a month on the disabled list.
Hernandez hung a curveball in the fifth that Lowell tagged for a two-run triple to tie the score at 4.
Kason Gabbard, called up before the game from Triple-A to replace injured Curt Schilling, allowed four runs and six hits in 3 1-3 innings, Boston’s shortest start this season. Three of those runs came in the first. He walked three in the inning, including Jose Guillen and Adrian Beltre with the bases loaded. That was immediately after Gabbard hit Kenji Johjima with a 1-2 pitch, also with the bases loaded.
Bloomquist made it 4-1 when he led off the second with a home run over the bench at the back of Boston’s bullpen far beyond left field, his sixth homer in 1,000 career at-bats.
Francona said Gabbard will take Schilling’s next turn, which should be July 2.
Gabbard’s six walks tied Boston’s season high by a starter. … The Red Sox optioned OF David Murphy to Triple-A Pawtucket.
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