The Boston Red Sox seem to have some key factors in place as they hope to gain a four-game split with the Seattle Mariners .
The Red Sox tend to score plenty of runs with Felix Doubront on the mound, and own the AL's best record against left-handed starters entering their matchup with Jason Vargas in Sunday's series finale at Safeco Field.
Boston (41-37) has dropped two of the first three in this set as the clubs have totaled only 11 runs – seven for the visitors.
There's a good chance the Red Sox will break out Sunday since Doubront (8-4, 4.54 ERA) is receiving a major league-best average of 8.44 runs in support. He's 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA in seven road starts, and has received a decision in 12 straight outings.
The left-hander's last one didn't go smoothly, as he yielded a career-high seven runs over six innings Monday in a 9-6 home loss to Toronto.
This is Doubront's first career start against the Mariners (34-46), having thrown 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief against them Aug 25, 2010.
Boston is 17-9 against left-handed starters, including a win over Vargas (7-7, 4.54) on May 14, when he gave up five runs over six innings of a 6-1 loss at Fenway Park. Vargas fell to 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox.
The left-hander was dominant Tuesday against Oakland, matching a career high with 10 strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings and allowing two runs before leaving without a decision in Seattle's 3-2 victory. It was a marked improvement from his previous outing, when he surrendered a career-worst 10 runs – including five homers – against Arizona.
"You could tell right from the beginning of the ballgame that he was more aggressive," manager Eric Wedge said of Tuesday's start.
David Ortiz , still seeking his 400th career home run, is 3 for 9 with no homers against Vargas. He has three hits in 13 at-bats without going deep in this series.
Boston starters had thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings before John Jaso 's two-run double off Josh Beckett in the sixth of Saturday's 3-2, 11-inning victory for the Mariners. Chone Figgins won it with a sacrifice fly.
Vargas will be under pressure to provide significant innings. The Mariners bullpen was forced to work 8 1-3 innings Saturday after Erasmo Ramirez left with an undisclosed injury after retiring the first eight batters. Seattle's relievers improved to 5-1 with a 1.91 ERA in the club's last 17 games."We used all but one guy down in our bullpen and kept them in tow and really that was the story of the ballgame," Wedge said.
Wedge called a team meeting to discuss Seattle's poor offense after Aaron Cook 's 81-pitch, two-hitter in Boston's 5-0 victory Friday. The Mariners' .199 home average remains the worst in the major leagues.
Boston hasn't fared too much better at the plate in this series, going 2 for 21 with runners in scoring position.
Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is batting .370 during a season-high 11-game hitting streak. He's 5 for 13 in this series, but has not driven in a run.
Dustin Pedroia , meanwhile, is 1 for 12 in this series and his .229 career average versus Seattle is tied for his lowest against any AL opponent. He's 1 for 8 lifetime off Vargas.
|Boston Red Sox|
|June 20, 2012||Clay Buchholz||15-Day DL||Gastro-intestinal illness|
|June 19, 2012||Dustin Pedroia||Day-to-Day||Left game - right thumb|
|June 18, 2012||Scott Podsednik||15-Day DL||Left groin injury|
|June 17, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||15-Day DL||Toe discomfort|
|June 17, 2012||Scott Podsednik||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|June 12, 2012||Josh Beckett||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
|June 13, 2012||Stephen Pryor||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|June 12, 2012||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder injury|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Dustin Pedroia rounded first base and pumped his fist. Seattle starter Jason Vargas stood on the mound with both hands on his head in disbelief.
Pedroia's eighth-inning solo homer off Vargas tied the game at 1, and his 10th-inning single set up David Ortiz 's sacrifice fly to win it in Boston's 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
The Red Sox scored nine runs in the four-game series in Seattle, but that was enough to scratch out a split to start a seven-game West Coast swing. The win was Boston's first (1-5) in extra innings this season.
"They were pitching pretty well," Ortiz said. "You have to pitch extremely well to stop our offense, and they did."
Pedroia's homer tied Vargas' career high for homers allowed in a season with 22. It took him 201 innings last year, 117 this year. It was Pedroia's first home run since May 11 and he was 3 for 17 in the series.
"I felt like there were 50 outfielders and a lot of infielders," Pedroia said. "I was hitting the ball good, just right to them. It's frustrating. (But I) put a good swing on it, felt good."
It spoiled an otherwise superb outing for Vargas. The day after the Seattle bullpen was forced to throw 8 1-3 innings because of an elbow injury to starter Erasmo Ramirez , Vargas went eight innings, allowed five hits, struck out six and was in trouble just once.
"Pedroia got him, but he handled everybody in a strong fashion today," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Ryan Kalish , pinch-hitting for Brent Lillibridge , hit a one-out double off the right-center field wall off Brandon League in the 10th. Pedroia followed with a single to right to put runners at first and third.
Ortiz hit a 2-0 pitch to deep right field off lefty specialist Lucas Luetge to plate Kalish and give the Red Sox the lead.
Vicente Padilla (2-0) picked up the win with a scoreless ninth. Alfredo Aceves recorded his 19th save of the season by pitching a 1-2-3 10th.
Boston starter Felix Doubront lasted just 4 1-3 innings and issued a career-high five walks. He struck out four, allowed three hits and repeatedly wiggled free to allow just a run.
"My arm was feeling good," Doubront said. "I don't know what happened. Seriously."
Padilla worked around a one-out double from Justin Smoak in the bottom of the ninth. Dustin Ackley popped out and Brendan Ryan flew out to right. It was one of several scoring opportunities squandered by the Mariners, who often contributed to their own offensive problems.
Doubront walked the first two batters of the fourth inning, Miguel Olivo and Smoak. Ackley was unable to get a bunt down, then struck out looking for the first out. Three pitches later, a Doubront offering in the dirt temporarily got away from catcher Kelly Shoppach . Olivo went too far off second and was caught in a rundown for the second out. Chone Figgins then flied to left to end the inning.
Doubront was replaced by Matt Albers after hitting Kyle Seager to load the bases in the fifth inning. Jesus Montero bounced into a 5-3 double play on the first pitch from Albers.
"When you make the starting pitcher throw 100 pitches in 4 1-3 you've got to do a hell of a lot more than that," Wedge said.
Ichiro Suzuki 's third-inning sacrifice fly to left drove in Figgins, who had singled then stole second. Ryan's single up the middle pushed Figgins to third with none out. Despite the brisk start to the inning, Seattle scored just once. Casper Wells struck out, Seager walked, and Montero flew out to right, leaving two on base.
Seager saved Vargas from damage with a diving catch of Nick Punto 's two-out line drive in the second. Cody Ross and Adrian Gonzalez hit back-to-back singles to start the innings. Ross took third on Gonzalez's hard grounder back through the middle.
Vargas struck out Will Middlebrooks with a changeup and Ackley trekked into shallow right field to catch a Daniel Nava pop-up to keep Ross at third. After Shoppach walked, Punto lined a 2-1 pitch to Seager's left, forcing him to dive to close the inning. Frustrated, Punto slammed his bat into the ground.
NOTES: The Seattle Mariners placed Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a strained right elbow flexor. Seattle called up reliever Josh Kinney from Triple-A Tacoma to replace him. To make space on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated oft-injured catcher Adam Moore for assignment. . Seattle starter Felix Hernandez and Boston designated hitter David Ortiz were selected as All-Stars on Sunday. They each are the only representatives for their teams. . Middlebrooks left the game after the eighth inning because of a hamstring issue.