They were contributors to Boston’s 5-1 victory over the anemic Mariners. But the real heavy lifting was done by a familiar Red Sox stalwart, Tacoma native Jon Lester.
In his last appearance at Safeco Field on July 24, Lester took a perfect game into the seventh, only to lose it on a one-out error — and then lost the game on a two-run homer by Michael Saunders that started a five-run late burst by the M’s.
This time, however, Lester was superb early and late, and in the middle, too, in picking up his 17th victory. He lost his shutout in the seventh, but wound up giving up just that lone run while allowing three hits and striking out 12 over eight innings.
“He’s a 17-game winner, so obviously he has outstanding stuff,” Mariner manager Daren Brown said. “He commanded his fastball well, and his cutter is tough on lefties and righties. We weren’t able to string a whole lot together against him. We just couldn’t get anything going.”
Lester struck out the side in the eighth, around a Chone Figgins walk, before giving way to Daniel Bard in the ninth.
Lester was one shy of his season-high 13 strikeouts in the aforementioned July start against Seattle. He walked three. Lester now has 208 strikeouts for the season, the second year in a row he has surpassed 200, and is third in the American League behind Felix Hernandez (214) and Jered Weaver (211).
Asked what worked for him, Lester said, “A little bit of everything. I was able to locate my fastball and get ahead. It’s big for not only me, but really any pitcher.”
Lester has now won four in a row, but said, “Nothing’s changed. I’m just getting more swings and misses and executing my pitches. I’m throwing the same pitches I have been all year. It’s just a matter of locating down in the zone and I’ve been able to do that.”
The Mariners have lost five in a row, their sixth losing streak of at last five games this season. But at least they were spared the indignity of back-to-back shutouts for the third time this season.
Losing pitcher Doug Fister (5-12), had a valiant effort over 7-1/3 innings but paid a heavy price for a second-inning hiccup, when the Red Sox bunched four of their six hits for three runs. Fister gave up just one more hit until the eighth, when Ryan Kalish followed a leadoff walk by belting a two-run homer to right.
“Once again, it was a matter of leaving pitches up,” said Fister. “When it came time to make a pitch, I left it up. After (the second inning), I readjusted and said I’m going to get every ball down, no matter what.”
Ex-Mariner Adrian Beltre started Boston’s second-inning rally with a single, and moved to third on a double by Jed Lowrie, a Northwesterner from Salem, Ore. After Josh Reddick’s ground out brought in Beltre, Daniel Nava and Lars Anderson delivered doubles to account for two more runs.
The only other hit Fister allowed until the eighth was a one-out double in the sixth by David Ortiz that broke a string of 12 in a row retired. But even that came with an asterisk: Ortiz got a second chance after catcher Adam Moore misjudged his foul pop-up and missed it for an error.
However, in the eighth, Fister walked Marco Scutaro, and rookie Kalish connected for his fourth homer (half of them grand slams).
“I thought Fister was good,” Brown said. “Take away the second, which you can’t do … He just made a couple of mistakes.”
With the lead, Lester said, he was able to relax.
“You get a couple of runs, you can kind of sit back and minimize the damage,” he said. “It takes the pressure off you and you can go pitch.”
The Mariners, limited to a pair of Figgins singles through the first six innings, finally broke through against Lester in the seventh.
Franklin Gutierrez drew a one-out walk, moved to third on Jose Lopez’s single, and scored on Casey Kotchman’s grounder back to Lester. The lefty appeared to have a good shot to nail Gutierrez at home but opted for the sure thing at first.
No other Mariners runner got past second base.
Red Sox 5, Mariners 1
E—Figgins (17), A.Moore (3). LOB—Boston 3, Seattle 6. 2B—D.Ortiz (33), Lowrie (10), Nava (11), L.Anderson (1). HR—Kalish (4), off Fister. RBIs—Kalish 2 (20), Reddick (3), Nava (21), L.Anderson (2), Kotchman (51). SB—Figgins (38). RLSP—Boston 2 (Kalish, Lowrie); Seattle 2 (Jo.Lopez, A.Moore). RMU—Scutaro, Reddick, Kotchman.
|Lester W, 17-8||8||3||1||1||3||12||112||3.17|
|Fister L, 5-12||71/3||6||5||5||1||3||105||3.95|
T—2:23. A—19,063 (47,878).