BOSTON -- With the game seemingly in hand, Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara allowed five earned runs in the top of the ninth inning as the Seattle Mariners finished with a 5-3 victory Friday night at Fenway Park.
It's Uehara's third blown save of the season. It was the most runs he had allowed in a game since May 5, 2009, as a starter for the Baltimore Orioles against the Tampa Bay Rays when he surrendered six. It's the most runs he has ever allowed in a relief appearance. In 2013, Uehara allowed just four earned runs total in 51 appearances from June 1 through the end of the regular season. He has now allowed at least one run in three straight appearances, which is the longest skid of his career as a reliever.
Boston entered the game with a 44-0 record when leading after eight innings this season. The Red Sox were the only major league team that had not lost when leading entering the ninth inning.
Uehara also suffered the loss Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Angels, when he gave up back-to-back doubles with two outs in the ninth to allow the go-ahead run.
On Friday, with the Red Sox holding a 3-0 lead, Uehara loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning. Austin Jackson provided a two-run double to cut Seattle's deficit to one run. Dustin Ackley then collected a two-run single to give Seattle a 4-3 lead. The Mariners added another run on Robinson Cano's RBI single.
"Baseball's a crazy game," said Red Sox starter Joe Kelly, who worked five scoreless innings and allowed only one hit, with three walks and five strikeouts. "Koji is one of the best in the whole entire league and to see that happen just shows how hard the game of major league baseball is. The guy's been so dominant. From me looking on the other side of the clubhouse last year in the World Series, to watching him be on my team this year, it's definitely a really, really hard game and stuff like that happens. Usually he's automatic. He just had a tough night tonight. Had a walk and a couple of soft hits that ended up biting him in the butt. He's so good and he'll be fine. He'll go out there and probably rattle off another 15 saves in a row and be back to normal."
After being held to one hit during Thursday's 2-0 loss to the Angels, the Red Sox responded and nearly handed a loss to one of the best pitchers in the majors. Thanks to a three-run home run by Yoenis Cespedes, Boston gained a three-run lead off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on five hits, with two walks and seven strikeouts. He tossed 116 pitches (78 for strikes).
With the help of a few solid defensive plays, Kelly cruised through the first four innings. With two outs in the fifth, he fell behind on a 2-0 count to Endy Chavez. Kelly then stepped off the backside of the rubber and appeared to be stretching his back. Red Sox manager John Farrell and a team trainer came out to check on the right-hander, and after a few warm-up pitches, Kelly remained in the game. He loaded the bases, but got out of the jam unscathed.
It was his last inning as reliever Craig Breslow started the top of the sixth inning.
"I had a little minor tweak in my shoulder that I felt on a curveball in the first pitch of that at-bat," Kelly said. "It's something I haven't felt, so I had a couple of warm-up pitches where I thought I was OK enough to finish the inning, and then was taken out due to precautionary reasons. It's something me and the training staff looked over and we think it's not too serious.
"I'm not [concerned]. I feel good. Ran through some tests and other than just pitching 88 pitches through five innings, and having normal soreness and fatigue, there's no signs of anything too big at all. I feel like I'm going to go out and pitch my next start."
Daniel Nava led off the bottom of the sixth with a hustling double, then reached third on a Dustin Pedroia 4-3 groundout. With first base open, the Mariners decided to intentionally walk the hot-hitting David Ortiz.
Cespedes followed and snapped a scoreless game with a monster three-run home run over the Monster. He faced a total of eight pitches in the at-bat and had four foul tips, including three in a row before he crushed a 2-2 offering from Hernandez that cleared everything. It was Cespedes' 21st homer of the season and fourth since coming to the Red Sox.
The home run snapped a streak of 17 straight starts allowing two runs or less by Hernandez, which was the longest in AL history, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Scary moment: Hernandez drilled Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts in the head with an 89-mph changeup right above the earpiece in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bogaerts dropped to the ground and Fenway Park suddenly went quiet. Farrell and a team trainer tended to Bogaerts, and after a few minutes, he made his way to first and remained in the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Brock Holt served as a pinch-hitter for Bogaerts, who was evaluated for a concussion.
Poppin' Papi: To say Ortiz is locked in offensively would be a major understatement. He entered the game 14-for-26 on this current homestand, including two doubles, four home runs, nine RBIs, six walks and five runs scored. He continued his hot streak against one of the best pitchers in the league. Before Hernandez was given the hook, Ortiz went 2-for-2, including a single, double and an intentional walk. He drew a walk in the eighth inning, too. In his past four games, Ortiz is 10-for-12 with three doubles, two home runs, two RBIs and six walks.
After review: There were two reviews during Friday's game. In the bottom of the second inning, Bogaerts crushed an 0-2 offering from Hernandez and drove it high above the left-field foul pole. Third-base umpire Pat Hoberg called it foul, but it was reviewed (not challenged) and after a 3-minute, 12-second delay, the call on the field stood. With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners' Kendrys Morales lifted a high fly ball to left-center field. Red Sox center field Mookie Betts got a good jump and made a diving catch, but second-base umpire Vic Carapazza signaled no catch. After Farrell challenged the call, the play was shown on the video board and as soon as it was evident Betts made the catch, the Red Sox players ran off the field even before the call was overturned.
Up next: After facing King Felix in the first game of this three-game set, it doesn't get any easier for the Red Sox. On Saturday, Boston's Brandon Workman (1-7, 4.26 ERA) will face Seattle right-hander Chris Young (12-6, 3.07). On Sunday, the Red Sox send righty Allen Webster (3-1, 4.73) to the mound against Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.57).
"The three pitchers we're facing in this series combined are probably the top three trio of pitchers in the league," Farrell said. "And coming off [Thursday night's one-hit] performance, we've got our hands full, as far as attacking a pitcher."