BOSTON -- Before Rick Porcello could blink in the Red Sox's 6-2 win against the Mariners on Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, the bases were loaded with none out in the first inning.
It was then that the right-hander knew the outcome of the game would hinge on his ability to get out of that jam. A double-play grounder hit by Nelson Cruz produced one run, but Porcello then got Kyle Seager to fly out and end the threat.
"I took the mound and the next thing I knew it was bases loaded with no one out," Porcello said. "I needed to keep us in the ballgame. You can very easily have that get away from you and lose the game in the first inning."
Porcello found himself in another jam in the third inning when a single by Leonys Martin and a double by Seth Smith put runners on second and third with none out and the heart of the Mariners' order due up. Once again, Porcello delivered, striking out Robinson Cano and Cruz and then getting Seager to ground out.
"It was almost a momentum shift. You felt it in the dugout. He came up big with two very hot hitters at the plate, two guys that have had success against him, particularly Cano," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "The two key strikeouts shut off an inning that could've been much bigger, and then [we] were able to execute some things early to take the lead. Rick did bend early, but certainly did not break."
After the third, Porcello was locked in. The right-hander retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced and finished the day allowing two runs on eight hits in six innings for his eighth win of the season.
Porcello's win also marked his sixth in as many home starts this season. He's the first Red Sox pitcher to accomplish that feat since Tim Wakefield did it in 2009 and just the second since Roger Clemens in 1986.
"He's done a much better job, I think, this year with men in scoring position, limiting damage, getting a key strikeout at times," said Farrell. "At home here, he's comfortable in this ballpark, he keeps the ball down in the strike zone, and that was probably as much a key today as any."
Porcello tried to establish his fastball early, and he turned more to his changeup as the game progressed. The pitch proved to be key in keeping the Mariners off-balance and allowing Porcello to get ahead in counts.
"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."
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.