SEATTLE - The Boston Red Sox came into a four-game series in Seattle one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won nine of 11.
They came out of the weekend against the Mariners somewhat relieved to have gotten a split of the series against the American League West's worst team. David Ortiz's sacrifice fly in the 10th inning gave Boston a 2-1 win on Sunday, their first extra-inning victory of 2012.
``They played well and they pitched really well,'' Ortiz said of the Mariners. ``We're happy to get a split. They pitched extremely well.''
Pinch-hitter Ryan Kalish opened the 10th with a double for the Red Sox against winless Mariner reliever Brandon League (0-5), then moved to third on Dustin Pedroia's single before Ortiz stepped up against rookie lefty Lucas Luetge.
The designated hitter, who spent the weekend looking for his 400th career homer, settled for a fly ball deep enough to right field to get the run in. It was a nice way to celebrate getting selected to the AL All-Star team for the eighth time.
``It's still extremely exciting to be named,'' said Ortiz, who is the only member of the Red Sox so honored. ``I'm glad the fans still like to see me.''
As big as the Ortiz game-winner was, the Red Sox would have lost this one were it not for second baseman Pedroia. Homerless since May 10, he got the Red Sox on the scoreboard with a solo homer off Seattle lefty Jason Vargas in the eighth inning, just when it was beginning to look like the Red Sox might leave town with two 1-0 losses in the four-game set.
``It felt like they had 50 outfielders and lots of infielders,'' Pedroia said in trying to explain the Red Sox's inability to do much with men in scoring position in the four-game split. Boston hitters went 3-for-27 with men in scoring position in the series. ``I finally put a good swing on one.
``Vargas knows how to pitch. He did a really good job; we didn't do much against him the first eight innings."
Vargas, who matched his season high with eight innings pitched, is somewhat used to lack of offensive support. Sunday was the eighth time in 18 starts the Mariners have scored two runs or fewer in games he's started.
And it didn't have to be that way. The Mariners had Red Sox starter Felix Doubront on the ropes repeatedly but got just one run despite having eight men on base between the third and the fifth inning, when Doubront was finally relieved. From that point on, the Mariners got just three base runners against the Boston bullpen.
``When the starting pitcher throws 100 pitches in the first 4 1/3 innings,'' manager Eric Wedge said, ``you've got to do a helluva lot more than we did. We had a chance to win three of four from a good club; when you do, you have to finish it off."
Vargas had to struggle to get through the second inning, when he gave up hits to the first two batters and went on to load the bases. But third baseman Kyle Seager made a diving catch for the inning's final out, and Vargas settled down to paint the corners and leave the Red Sox pounding their bats into the dirt for most of the rest of the afternoon until dinged by Pedroia.
Seattle, which has had trouble scoring all year, put together a run in the third when singles by Chone Figgins and Brendan Ryan put runners at the corners with nobody out, and Ichiro Suzuki delivered a deep fly to left to get the run home.
Boston manager Bobby Valentine suggested his starter dodged a bullet by only giving up that one run in 4 1/3 innings.
``There were just three hits, but he had a lot of pitches all around the strike zone that somehow weren't being swung at," Valentine said. ``I thought he had pretty good stuff, but I think he's throwing too many different pitches. He's working on too many different pitches. That's just my opinion."
Asked about that, Doubront said ``not really. I had a good fastball today. But I threw a lot of balls. That happens."
NOTES: The Red Sox lifted Will Middlebrooks from the game after a walk and steal in the eighth inning. He has a bit of hamstring tightness and will be checked out Monday. ... Mike Aviles was scratched from the Red Sox lineup Sunday because of flu-like symptoms, but was able to come back in the last two innings to play some defense. ... Seattle's Saturday starter, Erasmo Ramirez, went on the disabled list Sunday with a right elbow injury. Taking his spot on the roster is 33-year-old Josh Kinney, who has spent time in the big leagues with the Cardinals and White Sox. ... Vargas matched his season high with eight innings pitched.