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Red Sox 8, Mariners 6

Extra special in Seattle

Sox throw away Lackey effort, but they rebound in 13th

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / July 23, 2010

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SEATTLE — As the stadium rocked, as the Mariners celebrated, the reaction was the opposite in the Red Sox dugout, the defeat evident in their actions. Across the diamond, Mariners players stood on the top step of the dugout, their arms over the railing as the Sox batted in the 10th. Just one player stood at the railing in the visitors’ dugout, Dustin Pedroia, flanked by Dave Magadan and a pair of trainers.

Everyone else stood back.

It only worsened by the 12th. The Sox’ railing was empty, not a single player in view. It seemed as though they didn’t want to watch any more. They likely weren’t alone.

The joy had nearly vanished from this game as night deepened in the Pacific Northwest, most of New England probably turning off the television for the oblivion of sleep. The Red Sox had allowed 7 2/3 innings of no-hit ball devolve into a horrific ninth inning, then they bounced back with a 13th-inning rally. So, even though they came through with an 8-6 victory, Eric Patterson coming through with a two-out, two-run double to left-center in the 13th, it didn’t entirely feel like a victory.

“Sometimes the game will do it to you,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “You’re up, you’re down. As frustrating as the ninth was, you end up losing . . . we can’t do that. We’ve got to find a way to win, and we did.’’

Courtesy of an unlikely source, who ranked the double as the biggest hit of his career.

“Kind of have a short career, a young career, so I don’t have too many hits, period,” said Patterson, who has 84 total. “It was definitely a big hit. The way the game unfolded, lose the lead there in the ninth, come back and win in the 13th, it’s definitely huge.’’

The Sox had nearly won it earlier when Adrian Beltre came a foot away from a home run in the 13th. And they had nearly lost it earlier, as Hideki Okajima was faced with the bases loaded and one out in the 12th, and got out of it with a pop foul and a pop to third.

And through it all, the enormity of every game was evident, especially the way the Sox have been playing lately.

“We just need to win games right now,’’ John Lackey said. “It’s not a matter of how or what it looks like. It’s just nice to win the game.’’

Once Lackey had been taken out of the game, his no-hit bid broken up by Josh Bard with four outs to go, the Sox turned to a bullpen in need of reinforcements as soon as general manager Theo Epstein can get them.

Because it was the bullpen and the defense that melted down last night, costing the Sox a a 6-1 lead with three outs to go, as Manny Delcarmen, Jonathan Papelbon and a pair of infielders combined to give life to the worst-hitting team in baseball. The Mariners came back from five runs down in the ninth for the first time in their history.

There were bright spots for the bullpen, primarily the two scoreless innings from Okajima, but it was not exactly good night for Sox relievers.

Delcarmen allowed a two-run homer to Franklin Gutierrez in the ninth, bringing the Mariners within 6-3. Delcarmen walked Jose Lopez on four pitches, then Marco Scutaro made an error on a grounder, bringing on Papelbon with no outs and the tying run at the plate. He got Justin Smoak swinging, but allowed an RBI double to right by Casey Kotchman. And there, in sharp relief, was the evidence the Sox need bullpen help more than anything else at the trading deadline.

“Left some pitches right down the middle,’’ Delcarmen said. “They just hit it.’’

Papelbon had to pitch to Jack Wilson with the bases loaded, with Lackey’s no-hit bid seemingly reduced to a footnote. And Wilson did what was needed, bouncing a double-play ball to Scutaro. The shortstop fed Bill Hall for the force at second, but Hall’s relay to first went for another error and two runs for the Mariners, tying the score, 6-6.

It was the second infield error of the inning, the third of the game, with Hall contributing two. The game was tied, and headed to extra innings, not exactly the Sox’ strength.

That left the first eight innings a memory, as Lackey had been all the Sox had expected when they signed him in the offseason. Three Mariners reached through seven innings, on an error, a walk, a hit by pitch. But that was it until the eighth, as Lackey gained strength and excellence as the game went on, the brow-beaten Mariners seemingly losing hope. Still, with four outs to go, they had enough to end his shot.Lackey had come close to a no-hitter before, most notably July 29, 2008, nearly two years ago to the day. That night at Fenway Park Lackey was two outs from history, with Pedroia breaking it up in the ninth.

“Felt pretty good,’’ said Lackey, who allowed two hits and one earned last night. “All my secondary pitches were working pretty good, honestly my fastball probably wasn’t as good as the last couple starts, but my secondary pitches were pretty good. You think about it a little bit. You obviously know what’s going on, but it’s nothing that you’re really focused on.’’

He added, “It’s definitely one of the weirdest no-decisions that I’ve had.’’

“I thought that he had the feel,’’ Francona said. “He was good all night, but you could almost feel like he was smelling it a little bit. He was pounding the zone. His stuff was crisp. That was really an impressive performance.’’

Lackey walked Milton Bradley to lead off the second, after which Bradley stole second and moved to third on Justin Smoak’s groundout. Then, with Josh Bard at the plate, Kevin Cash suffered his fifth passed ball of the season, allowing Bradley to score.

“It looked like it was going to be easy to win, but it seems like the game is never over until it’s over,’’ said David Ortiz, who went 2 for 6 with an RBI. “We just went to Oakland and got our [behinds] kicked. Got to bounce back and try to win again. We need it.’’

They needed offense, too, scoring more than four runs for the first time in eight games. The Sox got home runs from Hall, Scutaro, and J.D. Drew.

And they almost had one from Ortiz.

With two outs in the first, Ortiz rocked a ball to right field, where Ichiro Suzuki made an outstanding catch against the wall to rob the Sox designated hitter of a home run. Ortiz stood by second base, incredulous, with his hands at his head, looking out to right field.

“That’s him,’’ Ortiz said with a smile. “Next time I’ll make sure I hit that to the upper deck. He won’t get there.’’

That catch, though, was nearly forgotten four hours later as the game ended. Too much had happened, good and bad. Too much back and forth. Though, in the end, it goes down as simply a win for the Red Sox — no matter how they got there.

Asked if the absurdity of the situation had occurred to him, the near no-hitter turning into a near meltdown loss, Francona said, “That thought crossed my mind. You hear the music playing [in the clubhouse], so that’s good. But we get to the ninth inning, we walk a couple, had a couple errors, give up a home run, that’s a tough way to win — but we did.

“It’s a long night, but I’d rather hear the music than not.’’

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