BOSTON -- Rick Porcello won his sixth straight game at Fenway Park with six innings of two-run ball on Saturday as the Red Sox topped the Mariners, 6-2, to stay a game back of the Orioles in the American League East.
Porcello (8-2, 3.76 ERA) allowed eight hits with no walks and six strikeouts and is now 6-0 with a 3.03 ERA at home this season. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a home run and has hit .441 with three homers over his last eight games to hike his average to an AL-leading.352.
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After establishing his fastball early on, Porcello kept the Mariners off-balance by turning to his changeup.
"I had a good one in the bullpen, so I knew it would be good, but I didn't want to show it too early," Porcello said of his changeup. "It was the difference-maker."
Mariners right-hander Adrian Sampson, making his Major League debut in place of the injured Wade Miley, got through three scoreless innings before giving up home runs to Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bogaerts in the fourth and fifth, respectively. Sampson wound up allowing eight hits and four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
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"He probably wasn't as sharp as he normally is, but it's his Major League debut, there's going to be a lot of butterflies," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "But I thought he hung in there and gave us a chance. We had opportunities to score a few more runs early and just didn't get it done."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bradley goes deep: Bradley cut the Mariners' lead in half on a solo shot to the Green Monster in the fourth inning. It was his 12th home run of the year, adding to Boston's slugging success as an outfield. Red Sox outfielders have combined to hit 35 home runs, second most in the AL behind Toronto.
"Any time you can put a good swing on a pitch, drive it," said Bradley. "You kind of have to hope that it lands somewhere. Sometimes you hit it, do everything you can and you'll catch it."
Not enough cushion: The Mariners missed two big chances to get to Porcello early and provide Sampson some breathing room. Seattle loaded the bases with no outs in the first, but it managed only one run on a Nelson Cruz double-play grounder. And after Leonys Martin singled and Seth Smith doubled to put runners on second and third leading off the third, the Mariners came up empty as Porcello struck out Robinson Cano and Cruz and got Kyle Seager to ground to second. Seattle still held a 2-0 lead at that point, but it wasn't enough against the AL's highest-scoring team.
"That was tough," said Cruz. "You find a way to get it done, especially me and Robbie. He was throwing a sinker, and when he elevated, the ball kind of carries and most of the time we swung and missed with that pitch."
Mini-rally sparks lead: After Travis Shaw led off the fifth with a base hit and Christian Vazquez broke his 0-for-12 slump with a perfectly executed hit-and-run, Mookie Betts tied the game at 2 with an RBI single. Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double play, but Vazquez scored to put the Red Sox ahead. Moments later, Bogaerts crushed his ninth home run of the year, a rocket to left, to give the Red Sox a much needed insurance run.
"It's good to see him bounce back after a stretch where he was grinding, scuffling a little bit," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Vazquez. "Hopefully this gives him a chance to gain a little momentum."
Lind unleashes: The Mariners struggled to come up with big hits with men on base in the first few innings, but Adam Lind did just fine with the bases empty, unloading a leadoff blast in the second to give Seattle a 2-0 lead. Lind turned around a 3-2 fastball from Porcello, driving a shot to center field that was projected by Statcast™ to land 444 feet away. It was Lind's ninth homer of the year, with eight coming in his last 24 games.
Hanley's hustle: Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez opened the eighth inning with a double, and he then turned in some aggressive baserunning to score Boston's final run of the afternoon. After Bradley lined out to second, Cano tried to double up Ramirez, but the ball deflected off Ketel Marte's glove and trickled into left field. Ramirez rounded third, ran through third-base coach Brian Butterfield's stop sign and slid home to beat the throw.
"He's always going to give a stop sign, it doesn't matter," Ramirez said of Butterfield's signal. "I mean, he's supposed to do that. Maybe trick the other team. It's on me and not on him. I have to be sure I'm going to make it. When you play hard here, the crowd goes crazy, and I love that."
"Marte just lost the ball," Servais said. "The 4 o'clock start here is challenging. It's challenging for hitters, too. If you look at the angle, that ball is coming right out of the crowd. He never saw it, with the sun there. Just a crazy play."
"This is a special place to start your professional career. After the first inning, I settled in pretty good. I think toward the end I just had some bad misses and kind of let the ball get going on me. But overall I felt really good about it." -- Sampson, on making his MLB debut
"Well, Hanley has a way of being Hanley is the best way you can describe it," Farrell said of Ramirez's aggressive baserunning.
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Sampson is the first Mariners starter to make his MLB debut against the Red Sox and first Seattle player to start his first big league game at Fenway since Alex Rodriguez on July 8, 1994.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Servais successfully challenged a safe call at first on a fielder's-choice grounder by Pedroia in the first inning. The call was overturned after a 55-second review, giving the Mariners a 4-6-3 double play and helping Sampson get through the inning unscathed despite allowing three hits.
Mariners: Right-hander Taijuan Walker (3-6, 3.69 ERA) starts the 10:35 a.m. PT series finale at Fenway as he looks to bounce back from an injury-shortened start. The 23-year-old was taken out after 3 1/3 innings against the Rays on Tuesday after a flare-up of tendinitis in his right arch. This will be his first time facing the Red Sox.
Red Sox: Left-handed ace David Price (7-4, 4.52 ERA) takes the mound for Boston after losing three consecutive starts, despite pitching well and having a 2.74 ERA in that span. Price is eighth on the list for most strikeouts this season with 102, five away from tying Madison Bumgarner for fifth.
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