BOSTON – It didn’t much matter which arm acting Mariners manager Robby Thompson used to wave at the bullpen. None of the Seattle relievers could get anyone out.
One night after blowing a lead and losing to Boston in 15 innings, the Mariners coughed up a six-run lead in regulation on Thursday night, giving up six runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose 8-7 to the Red Sox.
The finale of the three-game sweep came after Seattle was forced to use left-hander Oliver Perez (2-3) instead of righty Yoervis Medina in the ninth because umpire Gary Darling said Thompson motioned with his left arm first.
“When I put my right arm up, Gary had already turned around and didn’t see me,” said Thompson, who took over as acting manager when Eric Wedge had what has been called a mild stroke on July 22. “Lesson learned.”
Perez, who blew a seventh-inning lead on Wednesday night, gave up a two-run single to Shane Victorino and an RBI base hit to Dustin Pedroia before striking out lefty David Ortiz. Medina came in, but Jonny Gomes singled in another run to tie it.
After Stephen Drew walked, Daniel Nava lined a ball over the center fielder’s head to win it.
“I don’t think anybody saw that coming,” Nava said, describing the “tempered excitement” in the dugout as the bases filled and emptied. “You could see it happening, but it was still too far off.”
It was the 10th walkoff victory for the Red Sox, who opened a one-game lead in the A.L. East over the idle Tampa Bay Rays.
Henry Blanco hit a grand slam, and Felix Hernandez allowed six hits before leaving after seven innings with a 7-1 lead. Kendrys Morales had four hits and a pair of walks, and Kyle Seager and Brad Miller tripled for the M’s, who have lost 17 games in the opponent’s final at-bat – including eight walkoff losses.
“We’ve been through this before,” Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak said, “too many times.”
Hernandez seemed to be cruising to his seventh consecutive victory, but the Red Sox scored one in the eighth against Charlie Furbush and then cut it to 7-3 against closer Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth. Perez came on with the bases loaded and nobody out.
“We were trying to forget what happened yesterday,” said Perez, who took the loss even though he was the only one of the three relievers who pitched in the ninth to record an out.
“We just couldn’t complete three outs. Everything went their way in the ninth.”
Hernandez allowed one run and walked two and struck out eight.