John Valentin’s fourth hit of the game snapped a tie and gave the Boston Red Sox a stirring 9-8 victory over the Seattle Mariners in a wild game at the Kingdome Monday night.
Valentin and the Sox took advantage of Boston’s former exasperating closer, Heathcliff Slocumb, who blew the save in the eighth and fell to 0-8.
Valentin’s single through the left side followed a leadoff walk to Jeff Frye, a sacrifice bunt by Darren Bragg and an intentional walk to Nomar Garciaparra.
It boosted Valentin’s average to .322, ninth best in the A.L.
While Slocumb was self-destructing, Tom Gordon, the man who has replaced him as the Sox’s closer, notched his third save in as many opportunities.
Gordon, pitching for the third day in a row, retired the M’s in the ninth, saving the win for Joe Hudson (3-0).
The respective bullpens took turns coughing up leads in the late innings.
It was the Mariners’ turn in the eighth. Trying to protect an 8-6 lead, Bob Wells gave up a double to Valentin, Paul Spoljaric was greeted with a single by Mo Vaughn, and in a sense of poetic justice to Red Sox fans everywhere, Slocumb gave up singles to Wilfredo Cordero and Troy O’Leary, with a wild pitch thrown in before fanning Scott Hatteberg.
When the dust cleared, it was 8-8.
In the bottom of the seventh, Boston’s bullpen faltered.
Butch Henry’s first pitch was quickly transformed into Ken Griffey’s second two-run homer of the game, a towering drive down the right-field line for a 7-6 Seattle lead.
The homer stretched Griffey’s major-league-leading total to 43.
But it wasn’t the only one of the inning. Alex Rodriguez blasted a solo shot to left off Henry, giving the Mariners their 8-6 cushion.
Andy Sheets’ first major league homer, a bullet to left leading off the fifth, put Seattle on top 4-1, but the Red Sox used a homer in narrowing their deficit to 4-3 and chasing M’s starter Bob Wolcott in the sixth.
With Cordero (double) on second and two outs, ex-Washington State star Hatteberg clubbed a two-run blast to center. It was his eighth homer, but first since July 18.
Unfortunately for the Sox, they were again wasteful. Garciaparra whiffed with runners at first and third against Norm Charlton for the final out of the inning. In the fifth, Vaughn struck out with two on and two out.
The see-saw game had turned in Boston’s favor, at least temporarily, in the top of the seventh.
After a hustling Reggie Jefferson barely beat out the back end of a potential inning-ending double play, Charlton hit Cordero and walked O’Leary and Hatteberg, forcing in a run that cut Seattle’s lead to 5-4.
Wells took over and was greeted by Jeff Frye’s two-run single to right, with O’Leary scoring on a disputed call, making it, 6-5, Boston.
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