SEATTLE -- Mookie Betts drove in the go-ahead run on a ninth-inning sacrifice fly that turned into an error on a dropped ball by left fielder Rickie Weeks as the Red Sox pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Mariners in Thursday's series opener at Safeco Field.
The Red Sox won for the fourth time in their past five games to improve to 17-18, scoring the winning run off Seattle closer Fernando Rodney after Brock Holt doubled, was sacrificed to third and scored when Betts lifted a ball that was likely deep enough to have scored Holt even had Weeks held on as he lined up to make the throw.
"He was trying to be a little bit too quick and that's what happens with an inexperienced outfielder," manager Lloyd McClendon said of the converted second baseman. "He really had no play, other than to throw the ball to second. In the end, it really didn't cost us other than a few more pitches for Rodney. They didn't score any more."
Mariners lefty Roenis Elias gave up just one run -- on Shane Victorino's home run in the fourth -- in 6 1/3 innings, but wound up with a no-decision to remain 0-1 with a 3.24 ERA in four starts filling in for the injured Hisashi Iwakuma. Seattle dropped to 15-19 with its second straight loss.
Boston's Joe Kelly matched Elias with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing just five hits, in keeping his record at 1-2 with a 5.58 ERA. Hanley Ramirez went 4-for-5 with a double, but was twice thrown out stealing second as the Red Sox struggled to capitalize on a 10-hit night.
"There's a lot of energy in here," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I think everyone is aware that we haven't played to our capabilities and that's not targeting any one area. We need to play better and we're starting to do that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Victorino breaks out with bat, glove, arm: Victorino's slow start to the season -- interrupted by a trip to the disabled list -- took a turn for the better on Thursday night. The right fielder belted his first homer of the season in the fourth that snapped a scoreless tie. Victorino added a single and a walk. And on defense, he made a magnificent catch in front of the wall in right in the seventh to rob Justin Ruggiano of extra bases and fired a bullet to first to double off Chris Taylor. Victorino gave an emphatic fist pump at the completion of the play. More >
"I threw my glove up there and it landed in my glove. Honestly, when that ball was hit, I tried to get the best route, tried to get to the ball as quick as I could, and there was a point where I just jumped in the air and hoped it landed in my glove," Victorino said. "When I felt it go in my glove, I told myself, turn back around and see what was going on."
Searching for runs: The Mariners have struggled mightily with runners in scoring position of late and were 1-for-16 in that situation over the past two nights when Logan Morrison strode to the plate with Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager perched on second and third in the sixth. Morrison didn't end that dry spell, but did force across the tying run at 1-1 with a groundout to second that scored Cruz and set up the late-inning drama. Cruz went 3-for-3 to raise his AL-leading average to .361, but Seattle finished the game 0-for-6 with RISP and is now 1-for-19 in back-to-back losses. More >
Kelly snaps slump: After four consecutive shaky outings, Kelly turned in a strong performance in this one. The righty worked his way out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, getting a nice defensive play behind him to end it. Dustin Ackley stuck a hard grounder off the glove of first baseman Mike Napoli, but it deflected right to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who fired to Kelly covering for the out. Kelly wound up with a no-decision, leaving in a 1-1 tie. More >
"Just going to back up," said Pedroia. "All the guys take pride in being in the right spot. I do it a million times. One time you're going to get it. It was a big spot in the game so it worked out for us."
"He pitched a great game. That's his fourth game in a row where he pitched and deserved to get the win. And he didn't get the win. But he was outstanding." -- McClendon on Elias
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Thursday marked the first time Victorino reached base three times in a game since July 25, 2014, against the Rays.
• The Mariners were 0-for-2 with the bases loaded, making them 3-for-27 (.111) for the season. Seattle hasn't hit a grand slam since Sept. 28, 2013, in 131 plate appearances with the bases full, the second-longest streak in club history behind a stretch of 133 plate appearances from 1979-81.
THE BALL WILL FIND YOU Brad Miller of the Mariners made the first start of his professional career in the outfield and, of course, the Red Sox's first batter of the game -- Betts -- lined a ball to left field. Miller, who has played shortstop all his life, handled the play routinely and was flawless in his debut at the new spot.
Red Sox: Right-hander Clay Buchholz (2-4, 5.73 ERA) will try to turn in his second straight strong outing when he takes the ball at 10:10 p.m. ET on Friday. Buchholz is 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA lifetime in four starts at Safeco Field.
Mariners: Left-hander J.A. Happ (3-1, 3.29 ERA) will look to continue a strong start to his first season in Seattle when he takes the hill in the 7:10 p.m. PT contest. Happ was 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts against Boston last year while with Toronto.