Red Sox send Mariners to 14th straight loss
BOSTON (AP) — The Seattle Mariners had plenty of chances to score. As usual during their club record-tying 14-game losing streak, they squandered most of them.
The Boston Red Sox gave Terry Francona his 1,000th win as a major league manager with a 3-1 victory behind another strong outing by Josh Beckett and a tiebreaking, two-run single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the seventh inning Saturday night.
Seattle, baseball's worst-hitting team with a .224 batting average, stranded eight runners in the last four innings, wasting a strong performance by rookie right-hander Blake Beavan.
"The story of us for the past few weeks is we just haven't got that big hit in the big time," said Dustin Ackley, who had three hits but struck out to end the game. "We get hits to lead off the inning and then later in the inning we don't get that big hit."
Big hits haven't been a problem for the Red Sox, whose .277 average leads the majors. Four of their starters are hitting over .300 with Ellsbury at .319.
"He's been good in all situations," Francona said. "He's pretty special right now. You've got that guy (Dustin Pedroia) behind him and you know they don't want to face him."
Meanwhile, the Mariners tied the 1992 team's mark for consecutive losses after loading the bases in the eighth against Daniel Bard, but the reliever got out of the jam. He has now held teams scoreless in 24 straight innings over 23 outings, the longest active shutout streak in the majors.
"He got himself into a bind and got himself right out of it," Francona said. "Not many guys can do that."
Francona seemed more impressed with Bard and Beckett (9-3, 2.07 ERA) than he was with becoming the 57th manager with 1,000 wins and the eighth still active.
"David (Ortiz) poured a beer on my back. I'm kind of sticky now," he said. "I don't think it's a really big deal. I really don't."
Boston moved a season-high three games ahead of the New York Yankees for the lead in the AL East. Seattle is in last place in the West.
"We just left too many runners in scoring position," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "Bases loaded, nobody out and get nothing out of it. Second and third, one out, getting nothing out of it. That's the ballgame right there."
Beckett allowed seven hits and one walk and struck out seven. The only run he allowed came on a homer in the seventh by Mike Carp, his second in two nights since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma last Monday.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 23rd save in 24 chances.
Beavan (1-2) retired the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh then allowed three straight hits, including the single by Ellsbury.
Beavan's pitch headed for the outside corner but "it caught a little bit more of the plate than I wanted it to," he said, "but he made a good swing on it and hit it back up the middle."
A single by Pedroia against David Pauley and a walk to Adrian Gonzalez by Aaron Laffey loaded the bases before Ellsbury scored on Laffey's wild pitch.
Seattle had wasted a chance to make it 2-0 in the top of the seventh with runners at first and third and two outs. Brendan Ryan hit a sharp grounder to the left of third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who dived and threw Ryan out.
"I was a little spent in the seventh," Beckett said. "Youk made a great play to hold it down to one run."
Ackley began the eighth with a single and took second on a walk to Justin Smoak. Adam Kennedy then bunted, and Bard fielded it and threw to Youkilis, whose foot was off the base. Then, Bard retired Carp on a shallow fly to left, Jack Cust on a strikeout and Franklin Gutierrez on a groundout.
Both teams had five hits through six innings with the Mariners leaving four runners in scoring position through six innings before Carp's homer.
Cust was stranded at second after a two-out double in the second. Smoak also was left at second in the fourth after grounding into a forceout and advancing on a wild pitch by Beckett. And Seattle stranded runners at second and third in the sixth after the first two batters, Ichiro Suzuki and Ryan, singled.
The Red Sox got a one-out double in the first from Pedroia, but the next two batters struck out. The hit extended Pedroia's career-best hitting streak to 20 games.
Boston nearly scored in the second when Ortiz led off with a double and took third on a single by Carl Crawford. Josh Reddick popped out to second base before Jason Varitek hit a flyball to medium center field. Gutierrez made the catch, then threw home on a fly to double up Ortiz, who had tagged.
Notes: Pedroia has reached base in 32 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the majors... Carp had been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on July 3 when Beavan was called up. ... Former Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, who retired after last season, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Beckett has allowed more than three runs just twice in his 19 starts this season. ... Beavan has allowed a total of nine runs in his four starts.