SEATTLE — In four games against the best team in the American League, the Seattle Mariners managed to score 30 runs.
And because of struggles by its pitching staff, Seattle only came away with one victory.
Daniel Nava hit a two-out single in the top of the 10th inning off Seattle’s Tom Wilhelmsen to score pinch-runner Jackie Bradley Jr., and the Boston Red Sox rallied from a four-run deficit for the second time in a four-game series to beat the Mariners 8-7 in 10 innings on Thursday.
Ryan Lavarnway walked to open the 10th against Wilhelmsen (0-3) and was replaced by Bradley. Brock Holt laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Bradley to second base with one out. Wilhelmsen struck out Jose Iglesias on the eighth pitch of the at-bat then intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury.
Nava fell behind in the count, but was able to roll a 1-2 pitch back up the middle and past the dive of second baseman Brad Miller to give Boston the lead.
“It’s like a baseball god rule, you walk the batter to lead off an inning, they’re scoring,” Wilhelmsen said.
The Mariners continued an upward trend at the plate with their scoring outburst against the Red Sox. Seattle’s problem was poor starting pitching from Hisashi Iwakuma, Aaron Harang, and on Thursday from Erasmo Ramirez making his season debut. Those three starters gave up 20 earned runs in just 12 2-3 innings over the final three games of the series.
Ramirez’s problem was an inability to command his fastball that gave Boston a chance to come back after the Mariners took a 5-1 lead.
“You walk four guys and hit one in five innings, you can’t do that against any team, let alone a good hitting team like the Red Sox,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “He made it a lot more difficult for himself and for us in general.”
Boston scored three times in the fourth on two-out hits from Holt, Iglesias and Ellsbury, then scored three more in the fifth. Boston loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes sandwiched around a walk to David Ortiz. Mike Carp’s sacrifice fly scored Pedroia before Holt and Iglesias came through again with two-out RBI singles.
Ramirez was expected to compete for a spot in Seattle’s rotation out of spring training, but ended up on the disabled list with soreness in his right elbow. His debut lasted just 4 2-3 innings.
“Every ground ball just go to the right spot. The hitters got the luck today,” Ramirez said. “What I can do is just continue throwing the ball trying to make quality pitches, but I didn’t so they made me pay for that.”
Seattle got a solo homer from Kyle Seager leading off the second inning to give the Mariners a homer in 19 straight games, matching the longest streak in franchise history set in September 1999. It’s the longest streak in the majors since Toronto also had 19 straight with a homer in 2010.
Seager’s homer was followed by an RBI double from Miller and a two-run single by Endy Chavez as Seattle scored four times in the second inning. Michael Saunders added an RBI single in the third for a 5-1 lead, and Kendrys Morales and Seager added RBI hits in the fourth.
From there, the Mariners bats went silent thanks to knuckleball reliever Steven Wright. In just his second major league appearance, Wright (1-0) allowed just three hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out three, including Mike Zunino for the final out of the fourth inning with runners on second and third. Seattle got just one baserunner to second against Wright, and that was via an error.
“Given how well they swing the bat against fastballs it was the right combination today,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “He came to us, today would have been his fifth day where he was completely rested and we needed every pitch that he could give us. Just an outstanding job.”
Koji Uehara pitched the 10th for his seventh save as the Red Sox took three of four in the series.
Notes: Chavez left the game in the bottom of the fourth inning with tightness in the right side of his groin running out a bunt single. ... Seattle outrighted RHP Jeremy Bonderman, who had been designated for assignment. Bonderman declined the assignment and instead chose to become a free agent. ... Ellsbury hit the eighth leadoff homer of his career and first since July 27, 2011 vs. Kansas City. ... Seattle 2B Nick Franklin aggravated an already sore right knee on Wednesday night and was out of the lineup. Wedge hopes he’ll be able to play Friday.