Mariners - 000 000 100 - 1 9 2 Red Sox - 000 000 30x - 3 12 0Blake Beavan, in only his fourth major league game, matched pitches with Josh Beckett for six innings -- and it was Beckett (7-7-1-1-7, 118) who blinked first.
Mike Carp led off the seventh with a solo home run for Seattle, his second dong of this series (and of the year) -- but the Red Sox answered in their half. The seventh inning has been the magical frame this season. It's the inning in which the Red Sox have scored the most runs (93) and allowed the fewest runs (33).
Beavan retired the first two batters, but Jason Varitek (barely able to lay off a few high fastballs) singled to center. Marco Scutaro then doubled down the right field line; Varitek would have scored and tied the game, but a brain-dead fan reached out and grabbed the ball, and Tek could advance only two bases.
Jacoby Ellsbury saved the day by lining a single to center, scoring both runners and giving Boston a 2-1 lead. That was the end of Beavan's (6.2-9-3-0-4, 104) night. Dustin Pedroia singled off David Pauley -- his first-inning double extended his hitting streak to 20 games -- and Ellsbury took third. On Aaron Laffey's 1-2 pitch to Adrian Gonzalez, the Muddy Chicken took off for second. The ball got way from catcher Josh Bard and Ellsbury scored easily.
Daniel Bard got in and out of a huge jam in the eighth. After Dustin Ackley singled, Bard walked Justin Smoak on four pitches. Adam Kennedy dropped down a bunt, and Bard threw to third. Kevin Youkilis was off the bag and umpire Eric Cooper said Yook did not get his foot on the base in time for force Ackley. (The replays looked like Youkilis DID get the out, but he did not gripe when the safe call was made.)
So the bases were loaded with no outs and Bard trying to protect a 3-1 lead (and his 23-inning scoreless streak). Carp flew out to Carl Crawford in shallow left-center. Jack Cust struck out looking at a slider after swinging and missing a 99-mph fastball. Franklin Gutierrez grounded out to third. The Bard has not allowed a run in two months (May 23).
Jonathan Papelbon allowed a leadoff single and stolen base in the ninth, but got two pop-ups and a strike out (Ackley) to give Seattle its 14th straight loss (tied for the worst skid in team history).
The Red Sox improved to 15-3 in July (best in MLB). The win was also the 1,000th victory of Terry Francona's managerial career; the first 285 of those wins were with the Phillies. (His 28 post-season wins with the Red Sox are not included in that career total.)
Earlier in the day, the A's beat the Yankees 4-3, so New York dropped to 3 GB.
Blake Beavan / Josh Beckett
Having won the Felix/Lackey match-up, there is no reason why the Red Sox should not sweep this series.
They are 14-3 in July, while the Mariners have lost 13 games in a row, one shy of the franchise mark set in 1992. In the 13 losses, Seattle is batting .214 and has been outscored 72-31.
AL East: Athletics/Yankees at 1 PM.