Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Red Sox are taken for ride

Free-wheeling Mariners pounce

SEATTLE -- At 2:52 yesterday afternoon David Wells stepped onto the rubber at an empty Safeco Field and, without any pain, worked a simulated game. If it had been up to Wells, he would have pitched the game last night, and, given the outcome, he might as well have.

By the end of the sixth inning, Seattle's half of the scoreboard read like this: 3-0-2-3-4-2. The Mariners, who didn't go down in order until the seventh, were hitting .469 (15 for 32) after six innings with three home runs, two doubles, and a triple. Six more Seattle batters reached base without lifting their bats -- four walked (two were intentional) and two were hit by pitches. That's 21 base runners in six innings, 14 of whom scored, in what ended as a 14-7 demolition of Boston pitching.

Every Sox starter except Jason Varitek reached base at least twice, and yet they lost by seven.

This was a wild night for the 44,534 at Safeco Field. Both teams' leadoff hitters, Johnny Damon and Ichiro Suzuki, had four at-bats in five innings. Seattle, a team that hadn't homered in 17 of 34 games, cranked three. It was only the second time this season the Mariners homered more than twice, and the second time in as many games. They blasted four Wednesday in New York.

The Sox, despite hanging a four-spot in the third, and knocking out Seattle's Joel Pineiro after 3{dbcomma} innings, trailed by six runs after five innings.

Jeremi Gonzalez recorded only six outs before he'd allowed five runs, matching the total number of earned runs he'd allowed in his two other Red Sox starts. He'd done exactly what the Sox wanted in those two starts, which was not beating himself. He'd struck out 13 while walking just three in 10{dbcomma} innings.

Last night he walked two in the first inning. The Mariners vaulted to a 3-0 lead in their first at-bat on Suzuki's infield single and stolen base, Adrian Beltre's RBI single, a Richie Sexson's walk, a Bret Boone walk, and a two-run single by Jeremy Reed.

Gonzalez gave up back-to-back home runs leading off the third to Sexson and Raul Ibanez. Sexson's blast, on a 1-and-0 fastball up and over the plate, was a towering shot that faded into the black backdrop beyond the 405-foot sign in dead center. His 10th of the season was followed by Ibanez's fifth, on a full-count fastball.

Gonzalez exited after just 3{sbquo} innings, having allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks. His ERA, a respectable 4.22 coming in, swelled to 7.71. Fortunately for Gonzalez, Pineiro was already out of the game, having put up the following line: six runs, all earned, eight hits, four walks, no strikeouts, two home runs, one hit by pitch.

John Halama entered for Gonzalez with two runners aboard in the top of the fourth and gave up a titanic blast to the underperforming Beltre. The ball left the field in the left power alley and cleared the Seattle bullpen and the giant scoreboard behind the fence. Halama, in the next inning, allowed three more runs on a bases-loaded double by Randy Winn.

Halama gave up a leadoff double, hit a batter, gave up an RBI single, then intentionally walked Suzuki, loading the bases. Winn lined a bases-clearing double to center.

Trot Nixon made two fabulous catches in the inning. He recorded the first out on a Wilson Valdez fly down the line in shallow right. Nixon and Mark Bellhorn nearly collided, and Nixon made the catch sliding under Bellhorn. Then, with two outs and two on, Nixon made a diving catch charging hard in right. Still Seattle batted around in the fifth, scoring four times for a 12-6 lead. Through five innings, the Seattle portion of the scoreboard read: 3-0-2-3-4.

The Sox led, 4-3, in the middle of the third. The Sox batted around in the inning, which began with Bellhorn's first home run of 2005. Bellhorn hadn't homered in 156 regular-season at-bats, dating to Sept. 15 of last season vs. Tampa Bay's Dewon Brazelton.

Damon followed with a single, extending his hitting streak to 18 games, which ties a career best. Manny Ramirez, two batters later, was hit by a pitch on his left arm. David Ortiz followed with an RBI single. Varitek was then walked intentionally with two outs to get to Edgar Renteria, an interesting decision, given that Varitek was 0 for 13 against Pineiro.

Renteria singled, scoring Ramirez, and Bill Mueller scored Ortiz on a single to right for a 4-3 lead. Third base coach Dale Sveum waved in Varitek on the play, and the Sox catcher was nailed at home by Suzuki.

Sveum couldn't be faulted, since there were two outs, but Sveum did seem to squelch a rally in the first inning when he waved in Ramirez on a Kevin Millar single that never got by the shortstop, Wilson Valdez. Valdez threw home and Ramirez, who'd passed the bag, put on the brakes. He was then caught off third.

The Red Sox had gone two weeks without a starting pitcher taking a loss -- until last night.

''I hope we go another two weeks," manager Terry Francona said. ''Everything we did turned out wrong. Everything I did turned out wrong. We had a tough night."

The first inning was a harbinger of things to come for the sox. Nixon was forced at second on what should have been a base hit to center by Ramirez. Nixon did not realize center fielder Jeremy Reed had short-hopped the ball and did not see third base umpire Joe Brinkman signal a trap. ''Trot's in a no-win situation," Francona said. ''I don't think the umpire screwed up. That's what I told Trot. I would have done the same thing."

In a game filled with bizarre moments, there was one oddity that probably went undetected back home. Plate umpire Derryl Cousins and Varitek got in a heated argument in the fourth inning when Cousins refused to allow Gonzalez to throw one last warmup pitch, claiming the Sox had used up too much time between innings. ''I've never seen that," said Francona. ''I was trying to put it out [when he went to the plate to intervene]. I didn't think it was that big a deal. Evidently it was."

red sox extras
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives