Leading 3-0, Blake Beavan allows a three-run homer by Cody Ross and a solo shot by Ryan Lavarnway in the sixth inning as Boston downs Seattle.
A bad habit the Mariners picked up while cruising to a string of second-half wins was relying on one or two innings in which to score all of their runs.
That trend caught up to them on Tuesday night, when they took an early lead on the Boston Red Sox and then failed to build their margin. A couple of big sixth-inning home run swings by Boston, and the Mariners were on their way to a 4-3 loss in a game in which they appeared in complete command.
Cody Ross stunned the crowd of 12,754 at Safeco Field with a three-run homer in that sixth off Mariners starter Blake Beavan, followed by a solo shot moments later from Ryan Lavarnway. That was all the scoring Boston needed to snap a seven-game losing streak as the Red Sox shut down Seattle’s offense the final six innings.
“That was the difference in the ballgame,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We had opportunities to separate and extend the lead. Opportunities late in the ballgame to come back on them, and nobody stepped up for us in those situations.”
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Eric Thames hit a two-out triple in the ninth against Andrew Bailey to make things interesting. But Kyle Seager hit a fly ball to right that was caught for the final out.
Seattle got the leadoff batter on in both the seventh and eighth innings, but Thames and Trayvon Robinson failed to get bunts down each time. Thames took a called third strike against southpaw reliever Craig Breslow after fouling off a bunt attempt on the prior pitch, while Robinson popped his bunt into the glove of charging first baseman James Loney.
“It’s one of those things where you have to get it down, and I wasn’t seeing the lefty very well,” Thames said. “The first (pitch) was under my chin almost, or over my head. It kind of shook me up a bit. But you know, there’s no excuse. You have to get the bunt down and I didn’t, so I’ll get it next time.”
Thames hasn’t had much experience bunting and is better known for the type of power he later displayed in the ninth.
“I bunted once the other day and I bunted once last year and that was it, other than high school,” Thames said. “I take pride. I’m a pretty good bunter. Whatever it takes to get the team on the board and a victory. But that was a rough one.”
The Mariners have gone 15 consecutive games in which they have done all of their scoring in just an inning or two. They own a respectable 8-7 record over that stretch, but are 1-5 against teams that are .500 or better.
The current streak of scoring in two or fewer innings began against the Cleveland Indians on Seattle’s last homestand, in which the Mariners still managed to sweep and extend their winning streak to eight.
But the luck changed in Chicago the next series, when the Mariners got swept.
Seattle failed to score after the third inning Tuesday, despite making Red Sox starter Jon Lester throw 31 pitches in the first inning. Jesus Montero hit the first of three singles to drive home Dustin Ackley in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. Lester looked like he wouldn’t last much longer, especially when Franklin Gutierrez and Seager hit back-to-back home runs for a 3-0 lead to start the third inning.
Gutierrez made a diving catch of a Jacoby Ellsbury fly ball in the first inning that left him with tightness in his groin area. Though he stayed in long enough to hit the home run — his first since June 22 — Gutierrez was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons by the fourth inning. The Mariners spent the next three innings letting Lester get by on a handful of hits until he finally left after six with his pitch count at 111.
Boston woke up in the sixth against Beavan, with a pair of hard singles to right before Ross crushed a slider to left that tied the score. Beavan barely had time to get over that before Lavarnway absolutely drilled a 1-0 fastball well beyond the left-field wall to put Boston ahead 4-3.
“It was just poor execution, maybe not enough conviction,” Beavan said. “I just gave up a couple of those hits and tried to get a ground ball from Ross. You can’t do much with a first-pitch breaking ball that you threw and he hits it out of the ballpark.”
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners