SEATTLE — The Red Sox had 27 hours off after they were beaten by the Seattle Mariners on Monday afternoon. That was ample time to relax, reflect and perhaps push aside some of the frustration built up by the team’s seven-game losing streak.
At least that is what manager Bobby Valentine was hoping for when the players reported to Safeco Field on Tuesday.
“It seems like there’s a little more life around here today,” he said before the game. “It’s been pretty rigorous and losing doesn’t help. Hopefully it’s a little more upbeat.”
Home runs by Cody Ross and Ryan Lavarnway in the sixth inning improved the mood even more as the Red Sox broke through and beat the Mariners, 4-3, before a crowd of 12,754.
Most of New England was probably asleep when the Sox won for the first time since Aug. 27. Jon Lester (9-11) was the winner with help from four relievers.
Vicente Padilla pitched the eighth inning before Andrew Bailey worked the ninth for his second save.
Eric Thames had a two-out triple for Seattle but Bailey got Kyle Seager on a fly ball to right field to end it.
“That is the situation I want to be in,” Bailey said. “I was just trying to be aggressive. It was a good win for us.”
All of the Sox players not on the field were on the top step in the ninth. Finally, there was something to celebrate.
“It was good to see the guys smile again,” Valentine said.
Padilla also worked out of a jam. He walked pinch hitter John Jaso to start the eighth inning. Travon Robinson popped up a bunt. Pinch hitter Mike Carp grounded to first and James Loney started a double play to end the inning.
Rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias made a nice play to dig out a low throw then made a strong throw back to Loney.
The four runs were the most for the Red Sox since a 6-5 loss against the Angels that started the losing streak. They scored 11 runs in the six games that followed.
The Sox can take the series with Aaron Cook on the mound on Wednesday night against Kevin Millwood.
The Sox were held scoreless over the first five innings by Seattle righthander Blake Beavan. They advanced runners into scoring position three times but could not push a run across.
James Loney doubled to lead off the second inning and was stranded. Jose Iglesias broke an 0-for-17 skid with his first hit of the season, a double with two outs in the fifth inning. But he, too, was left on base.
Down 3-0, the Sox came to life in the sixth inning, scoring four runs on four hits.
Dustin Pedroia extended his hit streak to 14 games with a leadoff single to right field. Jacoby Ellsbury, who was 4 for 26 on the trip, followed with a single to right.
Ross jumped on the first pitch he saw, a slider, and drove it into the stands in left field. It was his 20th home run of the season, the first in 42 at-bats dating back to Aug. 23.
“I told myself that if there was something in the zone to go after it,” Ross said
With two outs, Lavarnway drove a high fastball off the scoreboard in left. That drove Beavan off the mound.
“It felt good,” said Lavarnway, who came into the game hitting .174 over 69 at-bats since being called up. “Pedey got us going in that inning.”
Lester struggled over the first four months of the season, playing a leading role in the team falling out of contention. The lefthander improved in August, pitching to a 3.59 earned run average in six starts.
Lester, who grew up about 30 minutes away in Tacoma, also has pitched well against the Mariners in his career. He was particularly sharp against them on May 14 at Fenway Park, allowing one run over nine innings and striking out six without a walk.
Lester wasn’t that good on Tuesday, giving up three runs over six inning. But he left with a lead.
Seattle scored in the bottom of the first inning when Dustin Ackley singled, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Jesus Montero.
The first pitch Lester threw in the bottom of the third inning, a two-seam fastball that stayed up and over the plate, was pounded over the wall in center field by Franklin Gutierrez.
Lester’s third pitch of the inning, a fastball on the outer half of the plate, was driven to right field for a home run by Kyle Seager.
Lester did not allow another run. He three 111 pitches over six innings, giving up three runs on nine hits. He waked two and struck out four.
Craig Breslow started the seventh inning with the Sox up 4-3. Ackley reached on a bloop single and Seager on a single to left with one out.
The Sox went to rookie righthander Junichi Tazawa in the critical situation and he delivered. Jesus Montero, who had been 3 for 3, lined to Loney at first base. Justin Smoak then fouled out.