Red Sox continue Safeco struggles

Red Sox continue Safeco struggles

SEATTLE -- An unearned run was the difference on Friday night as the Red Sox lost 7-4 to the Mariners. The loss extended the Sox's Safeco Field losing streak to nine games.

With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Adam Jones hit a routine ground ball to shortstop Julio Lugo to lead off the inning. Lugo fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw pulled Kevin Youkilis off the bag at first. Jones was able to avoid the tag while dragging his left hand across the base to reach safely. Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin threw over to first base four times in an attempt to keep the speedy Jones close to the base, but the final pick-off attempt skipped past Youkilis, allowing the runner to advance into scoring position.

Jose Lopez followed with a bunt back to Timlin, who fired the ball to third in an attempt to get the lead runner. His throw was late, putting Seattle baserunners on the corners with nobody out. Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a groundout to second base, driving in Jones and snapping the 4-4 tie.

"We had a chance at [third base], but my feet weren't set right," Timlin explained. "I should've gone for one, take the easy out, but I didn't, so another mistake by me."

Lugo's defense helped Boston escape without allowing any more damage, as he fielded a liner on a short hop and turned it into an unassisted double play to end the inning.

The run allowed by Timlin snapped his 16-inning scoreless streak dating back to his last appearance in Seattle on June 25.

Seattle-area native John Lester made his third start of the season for Boston and was given early run support to work with.

The Red Sox offense scored a single run in each of the first three innings off Seattle starter Horacio Ramirez. Mike Lowell delivered a run-scoring single in the first inning with the bases loaded giving Boston an early 1-0 lead, but Boston fans were stuck scratching their heads as Manny Ramirez raced from first to third base on the play only to see Youkilis already occupying the bag helping bring a promising rally to an end.

"[Manny] got a good read, a better read than the other guys," Boston skipper Terry Francona said of the baserunning error by the Sox. "He had his head down and ran hard. We had too many guys standing on third."

An inning later, the Red Sox loaded the bases again, and once again came away with only one run after Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double play scoring Willy Mo Pena. David Ortiz added a solo home run in the third inning, his 19th on the year, to push the Boston lead to 3-0. The home run was Ortiz's 209th home run as a designated hitter, passing Jose Canseco for fifth all-time in Major League history.

"We had [Horacio] Ramirez on the ropes a couple of times in the first two innings and to just get one run across, it's unfortunate." Lowell said. "In those situations we want to score two, three runs and put ourselves ahead big time."

Lester was clearly disappointed with his homecoming.

"It really wasn't very good," the left-hander said of his performance. "I let the team down a little bit. They jump out and get an early lead, and I should be able to hold that there and do a better job then what I did. It all comes down to fastball command and I just didn't have any tonight.

"I really don't like pitching here. The past two outings haven't been too good."

Chris Hester is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.