Red Sox-Mariners Preview

The Associated Press

While the Boston Red Sox are coming off arguably their worst offensive showing of the season, it was understandable given the quality of opposing pitcher.

Their next mound opponent doesn't present nearly the same challenge.

The Red Sox look to get their offense back in gear and continue their solid play Friday night when they face struggling Hector Noesi and the Seattle Mariners.

Boston (40-36) was unable to get anything going against Felix Hernandez in Thursday's series opener, losing 1-0 when pinch-hitter John Jaso delivered an RBI single in the ninth inning. The Red Sox were held to five singles and struck out 13 times against Hernandez.

"That's the best we've seen. He was unreal. His stuff was moving all over the place," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. "He kept the ball out of the middle of the plate. He was pretty special."

Despite being dominated by the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner, Boston is hitting .293 with 17 homers and 74 runs while winning eight of 11.

The Red Sox (40-36) figure to have a far easier time against Noesi (2-9, 5.50 ERA), who has an ERA that is among the highest in the AL and is tied for the major league lead in losses.

Noesi is 0-6 with a 5.08 ERA in nine starts since beating Minnesota on May 6.

"He's been inconsistent like most first-year pitchers," manager Eric Wedge told the team's official website, "but he's better than his win-loss record."

That's been true at home, where the right-hander has lost three starts in a row despite a 2.74 ERA while getting three total runs of support. Noesi got none at San Diego on Sunday, yielding two runs with six strikeouts in six innings of a 2-0 defeat.

His only two appearances against the Red Sox came in relief for the Yankees last year, and he allowed five runs in seven innings.

David Ortiz homered for his only hit in two at-bats against Noesi, and he's one shy of 400 after going 1 for 4 in the series opener. He's 6 for 13 with three homers and four RBIs in his last four games.

Aaron Cook (1-1, 9.39) gets another start for the Red Sox in place of Clay Buchholz, who is on the disabled list with an illness.

Cook came off the DL on Sunday after a knee laceration sidelined him since May 5. He allowed three runs - two earned - and six hits in five innings in a 9-4 win over Atlanta. It was the right-hander's first victory since beating Florida with Colorado on Aug. 17.

"I felt really good. It was nice to get out there, pitch some quality innings and get a win," Cook told the team's official website. "My sinker was working, my cutter was working, I got into a rhythm early and was able to keep going."

Generating offense continues to be an issue for Seattle (33-45), which has scored five runs in its past five games and ranks near the bottom of the AL in runs, batting average and homers.

First baseman Justin Smoak went 1 for 3 Thursday after going hitless in his previous 17 at-bats. He's batting .140 (7 for 50) lifetime against Boston.

The Mariners may be without center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, who left Thursday's game after he was hit in the face on a pick-off attempt. He returned from a torn right pectoral muscle that kept him on the disabled list until two weeks ago.

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