Jeff Cirillo's two-run single broke a sixth-inning tie and
reliever Ryan Franklin held the Red Sox scoreless for four innings
as the Mariners won 6-3 Friday night in the opener of a three-game
series between the teams with the top records.
"Nobody's really thinking about it," Seattle's Mike Cameron
said. "We've played pretty much all the top teams, and they've
played Tampa Bay."
The Red Sox (27-11) are 4-4 against teams with winning records
and 6-0 against Tampa Bay, which began the night at 12-27. The
Mariners (29-12) are 16-7 against teams above .500.
"It's great when you come into Fenway and you're playing the
Sox," Desi Relaford said, "but the bottom line is you've got to
get a win. It doesn't matter who it is."
If the Mariners win Saturday, when they face Pedro Martinez,
they would pass the Red Sox for the best record.
"Every series is important, but this gives you a good idea of
where you stand as a team," Boston's Tony Clark said.
In their last 16 games, the Red Sox are 12-4, but 1-3 against
Seattle, which tied a major league record with 116 wins last year.
Seattle overcame a 3-0 deficit on Ichiro Suzuki's two-run double
in the fourth and a three-run sixth capped by the bases-loaded hit
by Cirillo, whose error led to a run that had put Boston ahead.
Their sixth run scored on Ben Davis' sacrifice fly in the
seventh off Rolando Arrojo (2-1). He replaced Darren Oliver with
the Red Sox leading 3-2 after five, and he allowed four runs in 2
"The last couple of innings he pitched, it was pretty much all
heart that he was pitching with because he was gassed," Red Sox
manager Grady Little said.
"The story tonight was the way Franklin pitched," Mariners
manager Lou Piniella said. "He came in with the bases loaded in
the fourth inning and threw goose eggs for four innings."
Seattle, in first place in the AL West, improved to 11-3 in its
last 14 games as it tied the major league mark for best road record
after 20 games (17-3). Six teams did it previously but none since
Detroit in 1984.
"We come on the road and it's like we're at home," Relaford
said, "or like we should be at home" where the Mariners are 12-9.
The Red Sox led 3-0 after three innings with two unearned runs
as the Mariners made three errors.
Cameron's error in center field in the second didn't lead to a
run, but Cirillo's error in the third at third base did.
With two outs, Shea Hillenbrand singled and took third when Jose
Offerman's hard shot got past Cirillo, who said he had problems
with his contact lenses. Clark then singled in Hillenbrand.
Suzuki's double in the fourth made it 3-2. With two outs and the
bases loaded, his shot into left-center field drove in Carlos
Guillen and Davis. Relaford also crossed the plate but was tagged
out by catcher Doug Mirabelli when umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled that
Relaford never touched home.
The Mariners wasted a chance for a bigger inning in the sixth
when they went ahead 5-3.
With two outs and Olerud on third, Davis walked and Relaford
singled in the tying run. A walk to Suzuki loaded the bases.
Cirillo was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Boston played without LF Manny Ramirez, out 4-to-6 weeks
with a broken finger, and RF Trot Nixon, who served the final game
of a four-game suspension. "We're not missing them, but we need
them," said Rickey Henderson, Ramirez's replacement. ...
Hillenbrand extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Halama
beat Oliver in the previous start for both pitchers as Seattle won
3-1 at home last Saturday. Oliver walked five in 1 2/3 innings in
that game, then walked four Friday. ... Bret Boone went 0-for-4,
ending his 12-game hitting streak.
Plesac expected to start as Indians host the Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals (51-50, third in the NL Central) vs. Cleveland Indians (49-49, second in the AL Central)
Buehler, Dodgers to take on DeSclafani, Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers (61-41, second in the NL West) vs. San Francisco Giants (63-37, first in the NL West)
Davies scheduled to start as Chicago hosts Cincinnati
Cincinnati Reds (52-49, second in the NL Central) vs. Chicago Cubs (50-52, fourth in the NL Central)
Houck expected to start for Boston against Toronto
Toronto Blue Jays (49-47, fourth in the AL East) vs. Boston Red Sox (62-39, first in the AL East)
Gonzalez expected to start for the Rockies against Angels
Colorado Rockies (44-57, fourth in the NL West) vs. Los Angeles Angels (50-50, fourth in the AL West)
Milwaukee to visit Pittsburgh Wednesday
Milwaukee Brewers (59-42, first in the NL Central) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (38-62, fifth in the NL Central)