SEATTLE — When the trade was made that brought Charlie Furbush to Seattle, there wasn’t much background to know if the pitcher could eventually use his long left-handed frame to be a starter.
He was mostly used as a reliever in his time with Detroit, even though the majority of his experience in the minors was as a starter. Seattle has made the commitment for the rest of the season to see if Furbush can fit into their future rotation plans.
More performances like Sunday, and he’ll certainly be there.
Furbush, a South Portland native who starred at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, allowed just one run in a career-best seven innings, Casper Wells homered and scored two runs and the Seattle Mariners beat Boston 5-3, taking two of three from the AL East-leading Red Sox.
“Everything kind of was working, depending on the hitter,” said Furbush, who fiished his collegiate career at Louisiana State University. “I’ve faced these guys before, so there were a few things I wanted to stick to in certain situations, certain counts, certain hitters.
Seattle became the first team since late June to win a series against the Red Sox, a span of 11 straight series Boston had won or split.
Furbush held the Red Sox bats in check, giving up four hits in just his fifth start of the season. Furbush (3-4) struck out a career-high six and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning.
The lanky 25-year-old was rocked in his previous start for eight hits and six earned runs in just four innings against Texas. Seattle manager Eric Wedge noticed more consistency in Furbush’s delivery on Sunday, leading to better location especially with his fastball.
And Furbush was efficient too. He took just 95 pitches to get through seven innings and regularly hit the mid 90s with his fastball.
“He’s putting every ounce of that 149-pound frame into every pitch,” Seattle shortstop Jack Wilson joked.
For one afternoon, the deal the Mariners made with Detroit on July 30 to bring Wells and Furbush to Seattle looked very much a success. Wells homered for the second time in the series with Boston after hitting just two in his first nine games with the Mariners and Furbush threw possibly his finest game as a starter.
Furbush struck out five of the first 10 batters he faced and didn’t give up a hit until Adrian Gonzalez’s one-out single in the fourth inning. And he benefited from some defensive help as well. Dustin Pedroia was robbed of a base-hit leading off the fourth when Jack Wilson went horizontal to make a diving snag at shortstop. The out became even more important when the Red Sox got two more hits in the inning and a sacrifice fly from Jed Lowrie to cut Seattle’s lead to 3-1.
Ichiro Suzuki also made a fine running catch in right-center field to rob Youkilis of extra bases with a runner on in the sixth.
“It’s one of those things where you just react,” said Wilson, who also had a run scoring infield single. “Those plays end up becoming huge.”
Youkilis tried to really the Red Sox, hitting a two-out, two-run homer off reliever Jeff Gray in the eighth inning to pull Boston within 5-3. Youkilis had missed the first two games of the series with a stiff back. Gray got a groundout from David Ortiz to end the eighth and Brandon League pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 33 chances.
Tim Wakefield lost his second straight decision and was knocked around by the Mariners for the second time this season. In late July, Wakefield gave up 10 hits and seven runs to Seattle in a victory.
On Sunday, Wakefield (6-5) was credited with a complete game after throwing eight innings on Sunday, giving up four earned runs and nine hits. He struck out four, but was denied his 200th career victory for the fourth straight start.
“I don’t care about it. The first couple, yeah, but I’m just trying to pitch quality starts and quality innings to get us wins,” Wakefield said.
Because of Youkilis’ late homer the Mariners needed all of the cushion they built. Dustin Ackley capped a string of three straight singles leading off the fifth with a base hit to score Suzuki, and Wells followed with his seventh homer of the year leading off the sixth.
Mike Carp also extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI single in the third inning when Seattle scored three times off Wakefield.
“You know he’s going to pound the strike zone, you know he’s going to throw strikes so it’s kind of like you have to stay within yourself and get a good pitch to hit,” Wells said.
Notes: The Red Sox last series loss came June 28-30 when they dropped two of three at Philadelphia. They had won or split 11 straight series. … Boston manager Terry Francona said that Jon Lester will start Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader at home against Tampa Bay. Erik Bedard will start the second game. … Seattle won a series against an American League team other than Oakland for th e first time since taking three of four from Tampa Bay in early June. … Pineda will make his 23rd start on Monday night for Seattle against Toronto. Pineda has just one victory since July 4, but threw six strong innings in a no decision in his last start at Texas.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained two errors. Seattle Mariners pitcher Charlie Furbush is a native of South Portland, Maine, and began his college baseball career at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. He also played one season at Louisiana State University.