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Ichiro: Deep impact


Ichiro: Deep impact
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SEATTLE - There remain just two games on this trip, two games for the Red Sox on the West Coast during the regular season. That might be a blessing.

With three series, and a game against the Mariners, in the books, the Sox' record out West stands at 3-7. Even when things looked positive, like last night when Jon Lester held Seattle at bay early, it didn't turn out that way.

Instead, the Mariners - owners of a sub-.500 record - took the first game of this series as Ichiro Suzuki went deep twice off Lester, against whom he had been 2 for 10. Suzuki entered with just 75 homers in 5,581 career at-bats, but on this night he powered the Mariners to a 5-4 victory in front of 34,952 at Safeco Field.

Lester allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings, upping his ERA to 6.51.

``It [stinks],'' Lester said of his season thus far. ``I really don't know what to say, other than it's been [expletive]. I bust my [behind] every five days to go out and perform and I'm not performing right now. I'm letting the team down. There's no reason that we should not have won that game after four runs in the first three innings. It's just inexcusable.

``But with that being said, I can promise you that there hasn't been a pitcher that has worked harder than I have from the beginning of this season, and there won't be a pitcher for the remainder of the season that will work as hard as I will to get back to where I have been in the past. I don't think we're far. I think it's just little things right now that are screwing up my outings. Hopefully, no, not hopefully . . . it will turn around. It will turn around here in the future for not only me but the team.''

The Seattle crowd seemed to inspire some Red Sox who hail from the Pacific Northwest (Jacoby Ellsbury), and not inspire others (Lester). Be cause while Ellsbury was racing around the bases, Lester was staying in the game too long.

While Lester kept the Mariners off the board early, he was not successful in keeping them off the bases. Their only run through five came on a home run by Suzuki in the fifth, but Seattle had many more chances. The Mariners had multiple base runners in the first, second, and fourth, and failed to score. In the first, for example, Suzuki reached third base with one out, but was stranded when Mike Sweeney struck out looking and, after a walk, Wladimir Balentien flied to center.

But keeping the Mariners at bay didn't last. In the sixth, with Lester nearing 100 pitches, he allowed singles to Russell Branyan and Kenji Johjima, then made a poor decision on a comebacker to the mound by Yuniesky Betancourt. With plenty of time to throw to second to start a double play, Lester double-clutched, then barely got Betancourt at first.

Julio Lugo had the responsibility to cover second base on the comebacker. But with the ball heading toward the shortstop side of second base, Dustin Pedroia covered the bag instead.

``I screwed the play up,'' Lester said. ``I turned around, expecting Lugo to be there, and he wasn't, because he was coming in to get the ball. For some reason, it screwed me up. I don't know why. We work on that play 100 times in spring training to prepare for situations like that. I basically just screwed the whole play up. I throw the ball to second, we get a double play, it's a completely different ballgame.''

Franklin Gutierrez was next in the hit parade, his single going up the middle and scoring two runs. The Sox led, 4-3, but manager Terry Francona remained in the dugout.

Five pitches later, Suzuki was rounding the bases after his second home run of the night, and fourth of the season. It put the Mariners up, 5-4, and marked just the fourth time in his career that Suzuki had hit multiple homers, and the first time since 2005.

``He left a fastball [up] to Ichiro,'' said Francona, who added that he did not consider taking Lester out after Gutierrez's single. ``That's the reason we left him in so it didn't happen, and it happened.''

Then there was Ellsbury. By the fourth inning, the center fielder had three at-bats, and was three-quarters of the way to the cycle. The Madras, Ore., native doubled to the warning track in left-center to open the game, and scored the Sox' first run.

That was followed by a triple to right-center in the second inning, after which he was stranded, and an infield single in the fourth. The home run, though, would be the difficult. Ellsbury entered the game with just 13 home runs in 815 career at-bats.

Daniel Bard relieved Lester after Suzuki's second homer, but by then it was too late. The lead was gone. Bard got the Sox out of the sixth, and returned for the seventh, allowing two singles but not yielding a run.

Chris Jakubauskas, who had entered the game with a 1-4 record and a 7.67 ERA, was put in position to win. He might have done little to improve those numbers, but neither did Lester improve on his 2-3 record and 6.31 ERA.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 16, 2009

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