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SEA@BOS: Crawford's single gives the Red Sox the win

BOSTON -- This is what the Red Sox envisioned when they signed Carl Crawford: The two-out single up the middle for a walk-off win, a mob scene at first base, a frenzied Fenway Park.

It took until May, but Red Sox Nation and Crawford found their icebreaker on Sunday. Crawford turned a sinker from Seattle's Jamey Wright back around and plated Jed Lowrie as the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, giving Boston a 3-2 victory.

"Everything I hit, it seems like it's an out," Crawford said. "To see it get through, it was like a big weight was off my shoulders. I just felt good that it was a game-winning hit and that we could celebrate afterward."

The Red Sox have lost two straight series, but Sunday's win held off the Mariners, who won the first two out of three at Fenway. Boston is 12-15 overall, but not to be overlooked is a 1-0 record in May.

"As a team, we all talked about it today," Crawford said. "We wanted to just put the month of April behind us. It's a new month."

The rally had an assist from the afternoon sun. Lowrie reached on a one-out triple that right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, a Gold Glove Award winner in each of his 10 seasons in the Majors, lost in the sun just in front of the warning track.

"Right when it hit the sky, I couldn't see the ball at all," Suzuki said through a translator. "It just disappeared."

Not unlike Crawford's early numbers. Even with a 2-for-4 performance Sunday, his average sat at .168. But a slump as bad as his won't last a whole season, not for someone of his talent.

After Crawford reached first base, the first to reach him were teammates Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz -- the core of a team that Crawford said has supported him all along.

"Me and Gonzo, we had a race," Ortiz said. "I heard Gonzo say, 'Man if he gets a hit right here, I'm going to hug him so hard. And then next thing you know, it's like, 'OK, that's a good idea,' and bam."

"[We] just keep telling him that we believe in him," said Gonzalez, who extended his hit streak to eight games Sunday. "I wouldn't want anybody else in left field. He's the man. ... I keep telling him that the greatest thing for where you're in right now is that you're probably going to hit .330, .340 for the rest of the year. Good things will happen."

If Crawford lived up to expectations on Sunday, then spot starter Tim Wakefield exceeded them. In his first start of the year, the Major Leagues' oldest player went 5 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run, staying a step ahead of reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez.

Wakefield was on a short leash from the start considering his age, 44, and that he hadn't gone more than 3 1/3 innings this season. He navigated around a pair of Red Sox errors early, but once a runner reached in the sixth and Boston was ahead, 2-0, that was all for the knuckleballer. Wakefield received a standing ovation as he walked off the mound, as well as a hug at the top step of the dugout from Ortiz. It was Ortiz who drove in the only other Red Sox runs of the game, with a double off the Green Monster in the third.

"I actually was shocked that I got into the sixth inning, to be honest with you," said Wakefield, who allowed three hits, one walk and struck out three. "I just felt fresh, I kind of tried to preserve the bullets down there [in the bullpen]. ... We're a good team in here, and we got to show that even Cy Young winners can be beat."

Wakefield wasn't in line for the win for long. The one earned run he was charged with scored when Bobby Jenks, who said after another bad outing that he discovered a mechanical flaw, relieved him in the sixth and completely lost control. Jenks allowed a hit, threw a wild pitch and issued three walks, two of them with the bases loaded. Seattle tied the game at 2 without an RBI hit.

Jenks, in choice words, said his confidence had taken a hit after allowing four earned runs over his last three outings. His ERA is 9.35.

"Once I'm right, I know what type of pitcher I am, and everyone else does, too," Jenks said. "Obviously, things aren't right right now."

The relievers who followed Jenks were on the money. Right-hander Matt Albers put up two perfect innings, leading the way to a brisk seven-pitch top of the ninth for closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Wright started the eighth in relief of Hernandez, who went seven innings and struck out 10. After Lowrie's odd triple, Marco Scutaro grounded to third to bring up Crawford.

From the clubhouse, Wakefield watched what came next.

"Perfect ending to a great game," he said.

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