BOSTON -- As far as spot starts go, Christopher Johnson was spot on for the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon.The lefty was marvelous in his Fenway Park debut, firing a five-hit shutout in Boston's 6-0 victory over the Mariners, extending the Red Sox's win streak to six games."You always want
BOSTON -- As far as spot starts go, Christopher Johnson was spot on for the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon.
The lefty was marvelous in his Fenway Park debut, firing a five-hit shutout in Boston's 6-0 victory over the Mariners, extending the Red Sox's win streak to six games.
"You always want to come up here and do well, and there's obviously some stuff I've gone through in my career, but it's an awesome feeling," said Johnson.
• Johnson has new indelible Fenway memory
For Johnson, the masterpiece (eight strikeouts, no walks) came in just his third career start. With David Price returning to the Red Sox on Monday, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket after the game. It was the second time this season he has won a start for the Red Sox on a one-day stint on the roster.
"That's the reality of the game," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Brian is aware of it. We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket with David Price coming here Monday. But still, take nothing away from what Brian did today. He had complete command of this game."
It was Johnson's first nine-inning complete game in his professional career. It was the first complete game by any Red Sox pitcher this season, and the first shutout for a Boston starter since Steven Wright on Aug. 5, 2016, at Dodger Stadium. The last Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his Fenway debut? Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez in 1998, also against Seattle.
"It's great. He's fun to play behind," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "I've known B.J. for a long time playing against him, playing with him. It's pretty special getting to see him accomplish this. He told me the last time he threw a complete game was against us, the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC tournament."
Meanwhile, the Mariners continued their offensive funk, as they haven't scored in the first 18 innings of this three-game series. Seattle has scored nine runs in its last eight games, going 1-7 over that span.
"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," said a terse Mariners manager Scott Servais. "I don't want to take anything away from what he did. But we're not swinging the bat very well. And the only way to get out of that, you have to fight and get a little ticked off and show up tomorrow with a little chip on your shoulder."
The Red Sox gave Johnson a quick lead, scoring three in the first against Rob Whalen, who was also making a spot start.
Bradley provided insurance with a two-run homer to right in the sixth. He made a fantastic diving catch on a sinking liner for the second out of the ninth, then made another one on the run to seal the shutout.
"Probably one of the most rewarding things to be able to do it for a pitcher who's been pitching special all day long," said Bradley. "I get excited to be able to do that for B.J."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mookie races back, keeps Cruz in park: Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz put one over the short bullpen wall in right-center in the top of the fourth, but it was not a home run. That's because Mookie Betts was playing deep and got back in time to put his glove over that wall to snag the fly ball. Betts didn't require a leap to make the grab, but if he had not gotten there in time, Cruz certainly would have had a homer. Statcast™ rated it as a 3-star grab with a catch probability of 75 percent. Cruz's hit probability was 94 percent, and he struck it with an exit velocity of 107.1 mph.
Bradley provided an assist on the catch.
"We talk while the ball is in the air," said Betts. "He was talking to me, letting me know I had room and I could go ahead and catch it."
• After Betts robs HR, JBJ shows off OF skills
Bradley makes sweet grab, then homers: In the top of the sixth inning, Bradley raced back to the wall in center, perfectly timed his leap, and made a nice grab to take an extra-base hit away from Robinson Cano. Then, in the bottom of the inning, Bradley smashed a two-run homer to right-center to open up a 5-0 lead for Johnson.
"A big day for Jackie," said Farrell. "You know that he has such [prowess] defensively in center field, whether it is going back on a ball, coming in on a ball, going into the gap. That was all on display today."
"I put us in a hole, and it's tough to get out of that. I felt good warming up, just lost it there in that first inning. I didn't have a feel for it, but I found it a little bit as we went along." -- Whalen, after giving up three runs in a 33-pitch first before managing to get into the sixth without another run
"I started to catch myself, to try to overthrow a little bit, so I took a step back and tried to take a deep breath and relax." -- Johnson, on the way the crowd supported him in the top of the ninth
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mariners suffered their first back-to-back shutouts since June 11-12, 2015, against the Indians and Astros. It was the first time in franchise history they were blanked twice in a row at Fenway.
• Cruz, Mariners want to 'change the attitude'
Johnson's start was the latest strong performance by a Boston rotation that is 6-0 with a 2.50 ERA in its last eight games.
Mariners: Seattle's revolving rotation continues as right-hander Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) makes his fourth start Sunday at 10:35 a.m. PT. The 29-year-old threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings vs. the A's on May 17, then allowed 14 hits and 10 runs in four innings in his last outing against the Nats. This will be his first time facing the Red Sox.
Red Sox:Rick Porcello will try to make it a perfect 6-0 homestand for the Red Sox when he pitches Sunday afternoon's 1:35 p.m. ET finale against the Mariners.
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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [