BOSTON — The Seattle Mariners’ offensive surge had to taper off eventually.
It did slightly Friday night at Boston, though the pitching remained steady as the Mariners won their fourth straight with a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox.
Jason Vargas pitched seven solid innings and got his first victory of the season and the Mariners got timely hits as they rallied from a 4-2 deficit.
“Guys are getting on base and getting hits in key situations. That’s the biggest thing,” said Justin Smoak, who drove in two runs. “It’s all about getting that hit with guys on base. Early on we weren’t doing that.”
Jack Cust hit an RBI double in the seventh to give Seattle the lead as the Mariners roughed up reliever Bobby Jenks (1-2), who was booed after allowing two runs in the inning and giving up Boston’s one-run lead.
Vargas (1-2) gave up eight hits and four runs while striking out four and walking two. It was his longest appearance this season and he got the win for the first time since Aug. 14 at Cleveland.
“He knows how to pitch. He got a lot of our guys out in front with the changeup and then went to the fastball a little bit later,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Brandon League picked up his sixth save as the Mariners held the Red Sox hitless after the fourth inning.
Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was pulled in the fifth inning with tightness in his right elbow. Dice-K had already thrown 81 pitches before Ichiro Suzuki led off the fifth with a single. It was the first hit Matsuzaka had allowed since the first inning, but he was spotty with his control from the start, throwing 25 pitches in the first.
After scoring 24 runs in a three-game sweep at Detroit, the Mariners opened the weekend series at Boston with a much more efficient offense.
“We beat people up pretty good in Detroit and scored a few runs before we left,” Vargas said. “We’ve just been playing good baseball and getting the job done when it needs to be done.”
Mike Cameron homered twice for the Sox, who opened their 11-game homestand by losing for the third time in their last four games.
Matsuzaka allowed three hits and four walks, and struck out four before he was replaced by Matt Albers, whose throwing error in the sixth allowed Suzuki to score and pull the Mariners to 4-3.
Then in the seventh came Jenks, whose offseason switch from White Sox to Boston has been a minor disaster.
Suzuki hit another leadoff single in the seventh, Chone Figgins followed with a double and, after Milton Bradley struck out, Miguel Olivo hit an RBI grounder to score Suzuki. Cust hit a line drive that bounced off the scoreboard in left, easily scoring Figgins and putting the Mariners ahead to stay.
Jenks has allowed eight earned runs in 8 1-3 innings for Boston.
“I don’t even know what to say right now,” Jenks said. “I’m going out there, feel terrific, all my stuff is there, just the results aren’t. I don’t know what to make of it.”
Cameron had put the Sox ahead 4-2 in the fourth with his second homer of the season, a towering shot over the Green Monster. His first of the season came in the second inning, a fly ball that tucked just inside the fair pole in the shallow right-field corner.
Kevin Youkilis tied it 2-all on an two-out single to right in the bottom of the third, which could have been over if not for some misfortune for the Mariners.
Darnell McDonald drew a walk in the third after appearing to strike out. He tipped what was initially called strike three and catcher Miguel Olivo appeared to catch it, but first base umpire Greg Gibson ruled the ball hit the ground — replays showed it didn’t.
Jacoby Ellsbury then hit a grounder to second, but Seattle couldn’t turn the double play because Adam Kennedy bobbled the ball and had to settle for tagging out McDonald. Ellsbury scored on Youkilis’ hit and David Ortiz followed with another single to score Adrian Gonzalez, who also reached on a two-out single, and the Sox led 3-2.
NOTES: The manual scoreboard in left field spelled out “Go Bruins” and “Go Celtics” before the game. … Struggling Red Sox LF Carl Crawford was given the night off. Crawford is batting just .160 this season and Francona thought it was a good chance to get some right-handed hitters a chance against Vargas because of a string of lefties the Sox are due to face. … Youkilis, who jammed his left hip Thursday night in Baltimore, was able to play. … Seattle 2B Jack Wilson, who left Thursday’s game in Detroit with an irritated eye, did not start but came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth. … Friday marked the 25th anniversary of the night Roger Clemens struck out 20 Mariners in a game at Fenway Park.
Blue Jays 5, Yankees 3
NEW YORK — Ricky Romero got right back up after a frightening line drive flattened him, twice retired Alex Rodriguez in dicey spots and pitched the Toronto Blue Jays past the New York Yankees 5-3 Friday night.
Jose Bautista hit his AL-leading ninth home run and J.P. Arencibia also connected for Toronto. Speedy Rajai Davis returned from the disabled list and stole two bases, then scored when reliever David Robertson botched a first-and-third pickoff play and made a wild throw.
Robinson Cano hit a pair of solo home runs for the Yankees, including a shot in the eighth inning. New York went on to load the bases with one out, but Derek Jeter struck out and Nick Swisher grounded out.
Nationals 3, Giants 0
WASHINGTON — Jason Marquis has been in the majors for more than a decade and still doesn’t consider himself a finished product.
Marquis pitched a five-hitter to beat Tim Lincecum, and reserve outfielder Laynce Nix made the most of a rare start by connecting for a two-run homer that carried the Washington Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
“I’m getting more consistent as time goes on. I feel like I’m learning more about myself day-by-day and start-by-start,” Marquis said.
Marquis (3-0) struck out seven and walked none in his fourth major league shutout and first since 2009 with Colorado. Always a dangerous hitter, he helped his own cause with an RBI single and is batting .385.
“I was keeping them off-balance, pushing and pulling the string with my fastball and off-speed stuff,” he said. “The defense did an unbelievable job for me tonight. I just felt like I had command of all my pitches and was able to throw them on any count.”
After signing a $15 million, two-year contract, Marquis was a bust last year in his first season with Washington. Limited to 13 starts because of an arm injury, he went 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA.
This season has been much better. The right-hander threw 96 pitches in his seventh career complete game, dispatching the Giants in a game that took only 2 hours, 9 minutes.
“He was really good. He just made the game feel really comfortable for everyone in our dugout,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “He was extremely sharp. He had everything working. Pitching controls the game, and he was in complete control tonight.”
Lincecum (2-3) had seven strikeouts in seven innings to take over the major league lead, but dropped his second consecutive decision.
“I gave them too many good pitches to hit when I got ahead,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t have any walks, but when you come up with a loss, it’s not all that gratifying.”
The punchless Giants, blanked for the second time in three games, have lost six of their last eight.
“Hitting’s contagious. So is not hitting,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Right now, we’ve got a serious virus in this lineup.”
Making his sixth start of the season, Nix drove a 1-2 breaking ball to right in the second inning for his third homer. It was the second one Lincecum has allowed this year.
“It was my first time facing Tim and I was fortunate to get a pitch over the plate I could handle,” said Nix, who barely missed a second homer in the seventh, when his titanic drive off the second deck went just foul. “I didn’t try to think too much about who I was facing.”
Nix’s shot also drove in Wilson Ramos, who was on second with a double thanks to a misplayed fly ball by the Giants. Center fielder Aaron Rowand appeared to have a bead on Ramos’ tailing drive, but right fielder Cody Ross collided with him and the ball popped out of Rowand’s glove.
In the next inning, Ross led off with a sharp single down the third base line, but was thrown out by a large margin by Nix — the left fielder’s first assist of the season.
Ian Desmond led off the fifth inning with a single — one of his three hits on the night — and Marquis, one of the NL’s best hitting pitchers, tomahawked a fastball that was nearly over his head into right, driving in Desmond to give Washington a 3-0 lead.
“I figured he might try to go back up there, so I was trying to put the bat on the ball,” Marquis said. “If you find a hole, you find a hole.”
While the Nationals figure out their offense, it’s been solid pitching that has kept them around the .500 mark, something the team’s position players are thrilled about.
“It just goes to show our pitching staff is a lot better than what people think,” Desmond said.
NOTES: Giants outfielder Andres Torres, on the disabled list since April 15 with a left Achilles’ strain, played four innings in an extended spring training game in Arizona and stole a base. … Miguel Tejada, mired in a 4-for-32 slump entering the game, was bumped up to seventh in the Giants’ lineup. “We’ll see if we can jump-start him there,” Bochy said. … Washington is the only team with at least five innings pitched in every game from its starters. The Nationals’ streak is at 25 straight games.