SEATTLE -- Any questions about whether James Paxton has regained his early-season form appear to have been long-since answered as the big lefty fired seven scoreless innings and Seattle handed the Red Sox their third straight loss, 4-0, in Monday's series opener at Safeco Field.
Paxton allowed just four hits with no walks and a season-high 10 strikeouts as he improved to 10-3 with a 2.84 ERA overall and 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA in July. The five wins are the most by any Major League pitcher this month and the most in a month by a Mariners pitcher since Jason Vargas went 5-0 in July 2012.
"He is on a nice roll right now and we're the beneficiary of it," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "It's been fun to watch. His stuff was electric tonight. He struck out 10 guys tonight against a team that just doesn't strike out much. They lead the league in the least strikeouts. They are a contact team, they take a lot of pitches, they control the strike zone very well and he just dominated it."
Ben Gamel went 2-for-3 with a triple and scored twice while raising his average to .323, while Kyle Seager ripped his 14th homer of the season.
Jackie Bradley Jr. had a pair of hits for Boston, but the Red Sox reached base just four times all night. Eduardo Rodriguez allowed five hits and four runs over 5 1/3 innings to take the loss.
"Yeah, I mean, just missing my pitches," said Rodriguez. "The fastball to Seager, he made good contact and hit a homer. Couple more pitches I missed with and that's how it is when you miss your spots."
The Red Sox matched their longest losing streak of the season in dropping to 55-46, two games up on the Yankees in the American League East. Seattle (50-51) is 2 1/2 games back of the Royals in pursuit of the second Wild Card spot.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Extra, extra: The Mariners hit Rodriguez hard in his second start since coming off the disabled list with a knee issue, particularly in a three-run second inning when they ripped three of their extra-base hits. Seager led things off with a 415-foot homer to dead center, his 14th of the year. Gamel laced a one-out triple into the right-field corner, with the rookie covering the home-to-third distance in 11.31 seconds, per Statcast™, which was the third-fastest on the team this year behind a pair of Jarrod Dyson triples. And Jean Segura snapped out of an 0-for-15 skid with an RBI double.
"I don't hit them out there too often, so that was nice," said Seager, who can only recall homering to straightaway center once before at Safeco. "I'm just glad it went out. That's not in the cards for me normally. The wind must have been blowing out tonight or something. Check the Weather Channel."
Paxton dials it up: When the Red Sox finally got a couple runners on base in the sixth and seventh, the Mariners lefty kept them there. An error and a single in the sixth had two on with one out, but Paxton struck out Andrew Benintendi and Dustin Pedroia on cutters to stifle that threat. Then after singles by Hanley Ramirez and Bradley put runners on first and third in the seventh, Paxton caught Chris Young looking at an 81-mph curve and got Deven Marrero on a 5-4-3 double play to preserve the 4-0 lead. More >
"He really smells the finish line," said Servais. "He can see it and just turns it up a little bit. He knows what's at stake. It's the seventh inning, it's 4-0, but the game is still on edge a little bit. They have a good offensive club and getting the strikeout and the double-play ball was huge. Great way to end the night for him."
"That's pretty cool. I could hear them screaming, 'Eh, eh' when I'd gotten two strikes. That was pretty fun. It was really cool they came up with that on their own. It's great having support out there." -- Paxton on the Maple Grove cheering section that has popped up atop the left-field outfield deck that features Canadian "Eh" signs instead of the K-cards used for Felix Hernandez More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This was the third time the Red Sox have been shut out this month, and the ninth this season. Last year, Boston was shut out six times all season.
Paxton is the first Mariners lefty to win 10 games in a season since Roenis Elias went 10-12 in 2014 before being traded to Boston the following year.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Red Sox challenged a hit-by-pitch ruling on Segura in the fourth, but a quick 45-second review showed that Rodriguez's 89-mph cutter did indeed clip the Mariners shortstop on the foot and the call stood.
Red Sox: Left-hander Thomas Pomeranz will try to continue his strong run when he starts Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET. In his last 11 starts, Pomeranz is 7-1 with a 2.64 ERA. Pomeranz's only career start at Safeco Field came last season, when he gave up two earned runs over six innings and took a no-decision. Top prospect Rafael Devers will make his big league debut, getting the start at third base.
Mariners:Felix Hernandez (5-4, 3.88 ERA) gets the start in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco. The veteran right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in six starts since coming off the DL and has allowed just three runs and 11 hits with 22 strikeouts in 18 innings over his last three outings.
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