SEATTLE -- It's more than a little difficult to figure.
The Boston Red Sox are having a viciously difficult time trying to score against the Seattle pitching staff.
With a collection of seven Mariners pitchers holding the Red Sox to just two runs, Seattle beat Boston in the 11th inning Saturday, the second walk-off win in three days for the Mariners.
In both losses, the Red Sox had a chance to keep the winning run from scoring. Both times Ross came up throwing. Both times Saltalamacchia thought he had a play on the runner. Both times the Mariners scored. Both times the Mariners won.
Chone Figgins, who lost his job as Seattle's starting third baseman more than a month ago, was hitless in four at-bats before stepping up against Alfredo Aceves with men on first and third. He drilled a line-drive out to Ross in left field.
The throw to the plate wasn't in time to stop Dustin Ackley as the Mariners pinned a 3-2 loss on the Red Sox thanks to Figgins' sacrifice fly. Two nights earlier, Ross picked up a John Jaso hit with the idea of throwing Casper Well out at the plate. That didn't happen either in the bottom of the ninth of a 1-0 Seattle win.
"Man, those are two tough losses," Ross said. "Wells got a great jump, and there was some topspin on Figgins' ball, but that's baseball. Sometimes that's just the way it goes."
Saltalamacchia has come to expect strong, accurate throws from Ross, and the catcher knew there was going to be trouble when Figgins hit the ball in the air as hard as he did.
"What we were looking for was a ground ball in the situation, something so that we could get Figgins to roll over on a pitch and we could get a double play," Saltalamacchia said. "It was going to be a tough play."
Saturday was a troublesome night for the Boston offense as well as the Boston defense. The Red Sox outhit Seattle 11-9 but went 1-for-12 with men in scoring position. For the series they have just two hits with men in scoring position, and they're starting to appreciate the Mariners' pitching staff.
"It's been three days and I haven't seen a pitch to hit yet," David Ortiz said. "I don't know why these guys aren't winning more than they are."
Batting coach Dave Magadan said Seattle keeps throwing arms loaded with plus fastballs at the Red Sox. And for three days at least, Seattle has had the upper hand.
Even in Boston's 5-0 win Friday, the Red Sox did all their scoring in two innings and didn't threaten before or after.
"On Friday we took advantage when the kid (Hector Noesi) got some pitches up," Magadan said. "But those guys just seem to be able to bring another guy with a great fastball one after another.
"They've got a good pitching staff over there."
The Red Sox's pitching staff is looking up, too, even in Saturday's loss. Josh Beckett threw six innings, and for the first five of them he allowed just one hit and one walk.
"Josh is back and Josh is healthy," manager Bobby Valentine said. The Red Sox activated Beckett from the disabled list before the game after he'd spent two weeks dealing with shoulder discomfort. There was little evidence of that, even in the sixth inning when Seattle scored twice.
The inning's key play was a pop fly down the left-field line that fell between shortstop Mike Aviles and left fielder Daniel Nava. It was a ball that should have been caught, and it set up a two-run double by Jaso, the same man who beat them with a single Thursday.
"I think Mike heard Daniel call him (off)," Valentine said. "Daniel wasn't with us in spring training, and I don't think we have our communication down."
Even so, Beckett threw 85 pitches without pain and mostly with considerable success. That can only be a major positive.
"It was good to see JB back out there again," Saltalamacchia said. "He looked good. There was a little trouble with his changeup, but it was mostly good. He kept us in the game. We've just got to do a better job of getting some runs for him."
The Red Sox had won nine of 11 before losing two of the first three games of this series. Boston needs a win in the Sunday finale with Felix Doubront pitching to get a split of the series.