05/28/08 3:05 AM ET
Sox drop dramatic game in Seattle
Manny hits 499th; Dice-K hurt; Francona, Lugo ejected in loss
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
Jose Lopez belted an RBI single down the left-field line with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Mariners a 4-3 walk-off win over the Sox on Tuesday night.
The hit came off Boston reliever Mike Timlin, who fell to 0-6 with a 10.29 ERA lifetime at Safeco Field.
It wasn't as if Timlin got lit up. Wladimir Balentien led off with an infield single in the hole that Alex Cora almost made a play on. Miguel Cairo put the winning run in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Jeremy Reed grounded to second, putting Balentien 90 feet away from the win.
At that point, the Sox did the obvious -- walk Ichiro Suzuki intentionally. Lopez got a 1-2 pitch he liked from Timlin and promptly ended the game, striking it well out of the reach of diving Sox third baseman Mike Lowell.
"We walked Ichiro, made Lopez beat us and he beat us," said Francona. "It was the right thing to do, but it didn't work out."
Though Timlin almost certainly doesn't list Safeco Field among his favorite places to pitch, he is more annoyed with his fate in general of late. The veteran righty dropped to 2-3 on the season, while his ERA climbed to 6.89.
"Yes, my luck [stinks] right now," said Timlin. "This park, it doesn't matter. Right now, for me, it just [stinks]. It's frustrating. I'm throwing the ball well. I'm locating the ball well and I'm getting beat. And I don't like it."
The Red Sox haven't had a whole lot to like about this 10-game road trip, in which they're now 1-4.
As if the loss wasn't bad enough, starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka had to leave before the bottom of the fifth inning began with shoulder fatigue. Matsuzaka (8-0, 2.53 ERA) took a no-decision, giving up four hits and three runs -- two earned -- while walking none and striking out two. It is uncertain whether he can make his next start.
If not for Ramirez, Matsuzaka would have taken his first loss of the season. But with the Sox down by three in the top of the sixth, Ramirez promptly unloaded on Miguel Batista's first-pitch fastball for a game-tying, three-run shot to right.
"What a nice swing," said Francona. "I saw it on TV. But what a nice swing. We were pretty quiet offensively up to that point. He gets us right back in the game."
The blast ended a 45 at-bat homer drought for Ramirez.
In the eighth, the Sox had a golden chance to take the lead. Dustin Pedroia walked and David Ortiz singled, putting two on with none out and Ramirez at the plate.
But reliever Brandon Morrow struck out Ramirez and Lowell, and got J.D. Drew on a lineout to end the threat.
"The biggest pitches to Ramirez and Lowell were the first-pitch sliders I threw to both of them," Morrow said. "Getting ahead is the biggest part, and falling behind them, they know a fastball is coming. So those were my two biggest pitches."
For the Mariners, it was a dramatic end to a seven-game losing streak.
After Matsuzaka's exit, David Aardsma came on. He walked Jose Vidro. But it was against the next batter -- Raul Ibanez -- when things got interesting. On a 1-0 pitch, Lugo asked third-base umpire Angel Hernandez to check the swing of Ibanez.
For whatever reason, things got extremely heated, and Lugo was ejected.
"I just wanted to know why he threw me out," Lugo said. "This is a game where you come in and play hard and try to respect everybody. You expect people to respect you. For somebody to throw you out of the game like that, it's got to be more than that. It's not fair."
Francona went on to the field, mainly to take Lugo back to the dugout with him. But then he got into it with Hernandez and was also ejected.
"I wouldn't know where to begin," Francona said. "I really couldn't. I didn't go out there to try to get thrown out. I wanted to get Lugo out of there and move on with the game. Sometimes, the way you get answers or no answers sets you off a little bit. Obviously, he said something to me I didn't like, and I ended up getting thrown out."
Early on, the Mariners set the tone. Ichiro led off the first with a double to left and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. He scored on a grounder to first by Vidro. Ibanez boosted the lead to 2-0 on an RBI double to left.
Batista held the Red Sox down early, and the Mariners extended their lead in the third. Again, Ichiro was the catalyst, leading off with a single and stealing second. He moved to third on a throwing error by Sean Casey. Ibanez hit a fielder's-choice grounder to second to make it 3-0.
In the aftermath of the defeat, the biggest concern was Matsuzaka.
"Hopefully they caught it early enough to where we don't lose him for an extended period of time," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.