Schilling holds Mariners to three hits in Sox win

BOSTON (AP) -- Curt Schilling shut down the Seattle Mariners with
relative ease.

From his barehanded stab of a hard one-hopper by Ichiro Suzuki
to his mid-90s fastball to his pinpoint control, Boston's ace
showed another opponent -- and his rain-soaked hometown fans -- that
he is back and, perhaps, better than ever.

Schilling allowed three hits in eight innings Friday night in a
2-1 Boston win. Striking out seven and walking none, Schilling
started the season with wins in his first three starts for the
first time since 2002.

"I wasn't sure what I was going to be this year," said
Schilling, who won just four games in 11 starts last year. "I feel
I'm pitching better than I ever have."

That includes the three years when Schilling (3-0) won at least
20 games. But last year he spent 76 days on the disabled list with
an ankle injury and struggled all season. This year, an effective
slider and changeup and better inside pitching have made him hard
to hit.

"I've seen him for a long time and he should be confident,"
manager Terry Francona said. "But last year he wasn't healthy."

Pitching at home for the first time this season and in a rain
that fell steadily from the fifth inning to the end, Schilling
lowered his ERA from 1.93 to 1.64. He allowed a run in the fifth on
a double by Richie Sexson, who came around on two grounders.

Schilling got all the support he needed from an unlikely source.
Alex Gonzalez, signed as a free agent for his fielding prowess at
shortstop and not his hitting ability, drove in both runs with a
double in the fourth and went 3-for-4 with two doubles off Jamie
Moyer (0-2).

"I threw the ball decently. It seemed like I had to pitch out
of trouble every inning," Moyer said in a hoarse voice caused by a
sickness he's had for a few days. He said it didn't affect his

The game matched two of baseball's best veteran pitchers as
Schilling made his 517th major league appearance and Moyer made his

Moyer threw 51 pitches in the first two innings and left after
six after allowing two runs on eight hits with eight strikeouts. He
escaped jams in the first, when the Red Sox stranded two runners,
and in the second, when they left the bases loaded. His record
dropped to 0-5 in his last seven starts against Boston.

"For us to be 7-3 after 10 games when our offense isn't even
close to hitting its stride is a positive thing," Schilling said.

He has allowed just 11 hits in 22 innings. Jonathan Papelbon,
who got his fifth save in five opportunities, has been even
stingier, allowing hitters to go just 2-for-20.

"It's nice to give him the ball," Francona said. "I have a
lot of confidence in the young man."

Schilling pitched seven innings in each of his first two starts,
allowing two runs and five hits at Texas and one run and three hits
at Baltimore.

"Jamie did a very good job," Seattle manager Mike Hargrove
said. "He threw well enough to win, but so did the other guy."

That other guy, Schilling, faced the minimum 12 batters through
four innings, allowing only a single in the third to Kenji Johjima,
who was erased on a double play. Schilling even made an outstanding
play himself when he grabbed Suzuki's grounder and threw out him in
the fourth.

"I knew how we were defending the batter," Schilling said. "I
felt that if I didn't catch the ball, it was a hit. It was just a
reaction kind of thing."

Sexson got Seattle's second hit and scored on Carl Everett's
one-out groundout.

Jeremy Reed hit a leadoff double in the sixth and took third on
a groundout by Yuniesky Betancourt. Schilling got out of the jam by
striking out the next two batters, then retired the side in order
in the seventh.

He finished his outing with another perfect inning -- getting
Everett on a flyout, Johjima on a strikeout and Reed on a groundout
in the eighth.

"We had our chances," Everett said. "I'm not going to give
him credit," Everett said of Schilling. "That'll never happen. I
make my living off of pitchers."

Game notes
Boston is 3-0 when it scores fewer than three runs after
going 3-22 in such games last season. ... Manny Ramirez went
0-for-3 to extend his slump to 1-for-18. ... The last four batters
in Boston's lineup went 8-for-16. ... Seattle's Rafael Soriano
entered with runners at first and second and one out in the
seventh, then retired Mike Lowell on a double-play grounder with
his first pitch.