SEATTLE (AP) — Denard Span came to the plate in the eighth inning, knowing the situation was why the Seattle Mariners traded for him three weeks ago.
The veteran outfielder kept his cool and stroked a pinch-hit double that scored two runs, leading the Mariners to a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Span, batting for Guillermo Heredia with one out, hit a liner to the right-field corner off Matt Barnes (0-2) after Ryon Healy walked and Ben Gamel singled to left.
“I just tried to stay calm as possible,” Span said. “Kind of a calm angry. This is huge for me. I’m the new guy around here and I just want to help these guys as much as I can and feel like I’m one of them.”
The Mariners acquired Span and reliever Alex Colome from Tampa Bay on May 25.
“He’s a huge addition to our club,” said Seattle manager Scott Servais. “He has so much experience in those situations, so he understands how to slow things down. We’re going to have a lot more situations like that this season.”
Ryan Cook (1-0) got the win with a scoreless eighth inning and Edwin Diaz earned his major league-leading 26th save by working the ninth.
But Rob Whalen, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, was the difference, pitching four scoreless innings of relief.
“This team is unbelievable,” Whalen said. “It felt like a World Series game out there tonight. I just wanted to do whatever I could to keep us in the game.”
It was the 20th time this season the Mariners have come from behind to win. Seattle is 22-10 in one-run games.
Xander Bogaerts hit a three-run homer as part of a six-run third inning that gave Boston a 6-3 lead, but a spectacular defensive play by Seattle second baseman Dee Gordon on a hard-hit ball up the middle by Bogaerts that ended the sixth inning kept the Red Sox from adding another run.
The Mariners led 3-0 when Boston sent 11 men to the plate and had six hits and walk to chase starter James Paxton. The Mariners also committed two errors in the inning.
Paxton entered the game with a 0.39 ERA and 2-0 record in three previous starts against the Red Sox. Five of the six runs against Paxton were earned. He also threw two wild pitches.
“Pax had good stuff tonight, we just didn’t help him,” Servais said. “The defense was shaky early. Paxton has carried us this year, so it was nice to get him off the hook.”
Boston tied the game at 3 on four singles and an error by third basemen Kyle Seager, before Bogaerts hit his 11th home run.
“We had a good inning and got a lot of runs,” Bogaerts said. “But that one big hit, seems like Span always does that against us. I remember when he did it at Tampa early on in the year. Same thing down the same line.”
Jean Segura gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead in the first inning when he launched Rick Porcello’s fastball over the scoreboard in left field, a 420-foot shot. Seattle made it 3-0 in the second.
Mike Zunino knocked in two runs, including his 11th home run of the season to start the bottom of the seventh and cut it to 6-5 before Span came through one inning later.
“With him, you have to attack,” Boston manager Alex Cora said of Span. “He keeps working the count. He’s a veteran guy. If you’re ahead, you have to bury him and we didn’t.”
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