BOSTON — On a night made for singles, Marco Scutaro came up with a timely pair.
Scutaro’s second two-run single gave Boston the lead for good and John Lackey pitched eight strong innings to lead the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on a windy, drizzly Monday night.
With leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury sidelined for most of the season due to rib injuries, Scutaro has moved from ninth to the top of the order.
“He was always a tough out and never gave away at-bats,” said Lackey. “For sure, he’s a guy that’s really stepped up for us.”
Signed to a $12.5 million, 2-year deal as a free agent during the offseason, Scutaro’s been a reliable player on a team plagued by injuries.
“I’d say he’s gave us stability all year,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We were really excited when we got him.”
Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew both had two singles for the Red Sox, who won their third straight after their most lopsided loss of the season last Friday.
Chone Figgins had three singles for the Mariners, who lost their third straight after dropping the final two of a weekend series at Yankee Stadium.
The teams combined for 17 hits — all singles — as a stiff 19-mph wind blowing from center field knocked down any hard-hit flyballs.
Lackey (12-7) gave up three runs — two earned — and six hits, striking out 10 and walking two in his best his start since he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning at Seattle on July 22.
“The first six innings is probably the best I’ve felt this season,” said Lackey, who had a few balls hold up in the wind behind him.
Jonathan Papelbon got the final three outs for his 31st save.
Doug Fister (4-9) gave up five runs — two earned — with one walk and six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.
Steady rain was in the area for most the day, but ended just before the first pitch. The game started on time and was played in spotty drizzle, with Fenway Park only about two-thirds full as many of the 37,133 — the 614th straight sellout — decided to stay away.
Scutaro’s second two-run single broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh. Jed Lowrie and Daniel Nava opened the inning with singles and advanced on Ryan Kalish’s sacrifice. Scutaro later scored on Victor Martinez’s sacrifice fly.
“You just look for a pitch. It doesn’t always happen, but you go up with an idea,” Scutaro said.
The Mariners moved ahead 1-0 in the third when second baseman Lowrie misplayed Figgins’ infield single and was charged with an error on the same play as the ball bounced behind him, allowing Ryan Langerhans to race around from second.
Boston took advantage of Langerhans’ error and scored three unearned runs off Fister in the fifth. Beltre singled leading off and Lowrie reached second on an error when his fly ball down the left field line ticked off Langerhans’ glove, bounced off the track and his body before going into the stands. Kalish walked to load the bases before Scutaro had a two-out, two-run single. Drew followed with an RBI single, making it 3-1.
“That’s what teammates do is just pick one another up and unfortunately I didn’t fulfill my job tonight,” Fister said. “Got in a couple of little sticky situations and I need to make better pitches at the right times.”
Langerhans said it was a ball he should have caught despite running in as it held up.
“I think it went off my glove and hit the wall, I guess, I don’t know. I just felt it hit my glove and next thing I know it like hit me in the hip or something and bounced in the stands,” he said.
The Mariners loaded the bases on two singles and Lackey’s error on Franklin Gutierrez’s slow roller before Casey Kotchman tied it 3-3 with a two-run single to right in the sixth.
NOTES: Red Sox C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, on the 15-day DL with an infection in his right lower leg, was released from the hospital Monday after spending five days there. He came to the park and played catch. … Third base umpire Joe West had home plate umpire Angel Hernandez roll him a ball at the end of the first inning and he walked over and handed it to a young child in the first row in left field. … Boston LHP Hideki Okajima, on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring injury, gave up four runs on four hits in a 1/3 of an inning on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket at Buffalo on Monday. … The Mariners opened the final series of a four-city, 12-game trip on Monday, their longest since 2004.