BOSTON -- A lot of things went right for the Mariners on their just-completed road trip, but one little wrong at the end Sunday cost them a second straight sweep as a misplayed line drive lost in the sun by Ichiro Suzuki resulted in a 3-2 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Boston third baseman Jed Lowrie laced a fly ball right at Ichiro with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner couldn't pick it up in the mid-afternoon glare. The ball flew by Ichiro's extended glove and caromed off his hip as Lowrie raced to third.
One out later, Carl Crawford drove Lowrie home with a single up the middle off Seattle reliever Jamey Wright, ending a streak of 15 straight scoreless innings by the bullpen and a five-game winning streak by the Mariners.
"Right when it hit the sky, I couldn't see the ball at all," Ichiro said through translator Antony Suzuki. "It just disappeared."
With it went the Mariners' chances for a rare perfect road trip, though they return to Seattle with renewed confidence and a 13-16 record bolstered by the 5-1 swing through Detroit and Boston.
"We see the right direction," Ichiro said. "We see our form in trying to win the ballgame. That's why it's tough to lose a game like this. It's a tough play."
Wright, a veteran of 16 Major League seasons, called the end of the game "a big ol' bummer." But he tapped Ichiro on the leg and told him not to worry about it in the quiet visitors' clubhouse, knowing the conditions at the time in right field.
"I could tell he didn't see it," Wright said. "He actually came a lot closer than I thought he would. I thought it was going to sail right by him. I had a chance to get out of it with the ground ball, but I threw a cutter to Crawford that got a little too much of the plate. I was trying to get a shoe or glove or something on it, but he hit it too hard."
Lowrie, whose last triple came in 2008, was happy to catch the break as the Red Sox have been going through a tough stretch and are 12-15 despite their loaded lineup.
"When I hit it, I knew I got it good," Lowrie said. "He plays a really deep right field, the wind was blowing straight in and I saw him and thought he was camped right under it, which he was. But then the sun. ... I don't know what was going through his mind or his read on the ball, but it looked like the sun might have distracted him or got in his way. He's a good outfielder -- he doesn't miss too many balls."
Ichiro said he faced a tough call as soon as the line drive started coming at him, but refused to call the play a mistake.
"It's a hard play, because you have to make the right decision," he said. "The moment that ball hit the sky, I couldn't pick up anything, it just disappeared. It's close to impossible to catch that ball. The decisions were look to the side so the ball could get deeper into myself and maybe hit me, or run back and let it fall down for a single.
"But my instinct's late in a tight ballgame, you want to make that effort. You don't want to let that ball fall in and make it look like you aren't trying."
The last-inning loss spoiled a strong outing by Felix Hernandez, who gave up just two runs on six hits with a season-high 10 strikeouts in seven innings. Both runs scored in the third on a double off the Green Monster by David Ortiz.
Hernandez cruised once he got control of his sinker, which he said was breaking too much initially. The one pitch he was kicking himself for was the fastball away that Ortiz laced off the wall.
"I should have stayed with a two-seamer," Hernandez said. "I threw the four-seamer and it stayed right there."
Seattle's scoring was less dramatic, as the ultra-patient Jack Cust and utility infielder Luis Rodriguez coaxed bases-loaded walks from struggling reliever Bobby Jenks in the sixth to tie the game at 2.
Seattle has a Major League-leading nine bases-loaded walks, five by Cust alone. The Mariners' season record is six by John Olerud in 2003. Olerud also had five in 2000, so Cust is tied for second most in club history, just a month into the season.
Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, filling in for the ill Clay Buchholz, baffled the Mariners for 5 2/3 innings on three hits and one run. Seattle finally crossed the plate in the sixth, when Wakefield was replaced by Jenks after a two-out single by Ryan Langerhans.
Jenks opened the floodgates with a base hit to Miguel Olivo, a wild pitch and then three straight walks -- the final two to Cust and Rodriguez pushing across the runs.
Hernandez has yet to lose in Boston as he remains 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA in five Fenway starts. After Ortiz's two-run double, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner bore down and retired 14 of his last 15 batters, including 12 in a row.
"He's real good at righting himself," said manager Eric Wedge. "They made him work early, but he took control of the ballgame and was able to give us seven strong innings. We were able to come back and tie the game and give ourselves a chance to ultimately win it.
"I felt like we took some good hacks late, we hit some balls hard right at them and they made a couple good plays. Then we caught a bad break there late."