BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Red Sox ripped a page off the calendar and talked about putting their miserable April behind them.
No one wanted to forget the opening month more than Carl Crawford.
The Red Sox leftfielder singled to score Jed Lowrie from third and break a ninth-inning tie on Sunday, giving the Red Sox a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners. It was just his second RBI in Fenway Park this season, his first in Boston under the seven-year, $142 million contract he signed in the offseason.
“After seeing it go through the middle, it was like a big weight off my shoulder,” said Crawford, who entered the game hitting .155. “It’s been a while since I felt this good. It’s been tough on me; I can’t sit here and act like it hasn’t been. But you try to minimize that and keep positive thoughts in your head.”
It was 2-2 with one out in the ninth when Lowrie lifted a fly ball to right and Ichiro Suzuki lost it in the sun, getting hit in the hip as he ducked, trying to shade his eyes with his glove.
Lowrie went into third standing up. Marco Scutaro’s grounder was fielded by a drawn-in infield for the second out before Crawford lined a 1-1 pitch to center. That brought Lowrie in easily, and the rest of the Red Sox out of the dugout to congratulate Crawford.
“Everybody’s been doing a good job of trying to get me going,” Crawford said. “The guys have my back. They really care about getting me going and they understand I’ve been going through some things.”
Jonathan Papelbon (1-0) earned the win with a perfect ninth inning.
Jamey Wright (0-1) took the loss despite retiring his first four batters, and then getting Lowrie to hit a seemingly harmless fly to Suzuki.
“Right when it got in the sky, it just disappeared. I didn’t see the ball at all,” Suzuki said through a translator. “It’s a hard thing to make the right decision. The moment it hit the sky it dropped. You have to make the right decision. The decision is to turn to the side and let it hit me or run back and let it fall down. My instinct was in a tight ballgame to let it hit me.”
Seattle had won five straight but could not convert a strong outing by reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez into its first three-game sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway in history. Hernandez gave up two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out a season-high 10 before leaving after seven innings.
The Red Sox won for just the second time in six games. But they improved to 1-0 in May after an April in which they lost the first six games of the season and finished the month 11-15.
“As a team, we just wanted to put the month of April behind us,” Crawford said. “We wanted to start fresh and act like the month of April never happened.”
Tim Wakefield made his first start of the season and held the Mariners to three hits while striking out three and walking one. He left to a standing ovation with two outs in the sixth and a runner on first, but Bobby Jenks gave up a single to Miguel Olivo and then three straight walks — two of them with the bases loaded.
Jenks faced five batters and did not get an out until Michael Saunders hit a hard line drive that was caught by Crawford in left. He was sarcastically cheered with every strike — he only threw 12 of them — and booed when he left the mound at the end of the inning.
That cost Wakefield of a decision as he tries to catch Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the all-time franchise mark for wins; the knuckleballer has 179 with Boston, 13 shy of the Red Sox record. At 44, Wakefield is the oldest pitcher to start a major-league game since Roger Clemens, who was 45 when he started for the Yankees against Boston on Sept. 16, 2007.
Boston loaded the bases in the first but failed to score, then put two on in the third and extended their slump to 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position before David Ortiz doubled off the Green Monster to score two runs.
Notes: Clay Buchholz, who was pushed back a day because he was sick on Friday, will pitch Monday against the Los Angeles Angels, with Jon Lester going on Tuesday and Josh Beckett pushed back at least to Wednesday. … 3B Kevin Youkilis was sore and took the day off. … Mariners C Miguel Olivo started his seventh straight game. … “He wanted it. He deserved it. He’s playing with energy and life,” manager Eric Wedge said. … OF Milton Bradley, who was ejected from Saturday night’s game, sat out to get some rest. … Hernandez moved into third on the Mariners’ career list with 1,087 strikeouts.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)