SEATTLE -- Runs have been hard to come by of late for the normally potent Red Sox, but they came up with one at the right moment on Thursday as Brock Holt drove in Travis Shaw with an 11th inning single to lift Boston to a 3-2 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
Shaw started the winning rally with a single, and Sandy Leon moved him into scoring position with a bunt. Holt, who came into the game in the seventh as a pinch-hitter, came through with the hit that decided the game.
"Yeah, it kind of had that feeling throughout the game, that it was going to be one of those games that someone was going to have to manufacture one some way," Holt said. "We're fortunate that it was us. A big at-bat by Travis to get on base and then Sandy to put down the bunt. That was big for us."
The Red Sox have gone 4-7 while totaling just 37 runs over their past 11 games, but they pulled back into a tie with the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot in the American League at 59-48 thanks to Holt's one-out single up the middle off Seattle reliever Cody Martin. Boston trails the Orioles and Blue Jays by two games in the East.
The Mariners got the tying run to third with two out in the bottom of the 11th, but Brad Ziegler struck out pinch hitter Seth Smith to notch the save. Seattle dropped to 54-53, five games back in the Wild Card chase.
"We had nine walks, we got on base, we had multiple opportunities, but we just couldn't cash in," said Mariners manager Scott Servais, whose team managed just six hits off six Boston pitchers.
"It's tough. We've played a lot of close games. The last five or six have all been nail biters right to the end. We can't quite finish or get over the hump or whatever you want to call it to take that next step. It's a little frustrating. We played well, but you've got to get the big hits."
Drew Pomeranz held a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth before giving up a pair of runs that left him with a no-decision as he continues searching for his first win for the Red Sox. Pomeranz gave up just four hits in six innings, but walked a career-high six and is 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in four starts since being acquired from the Padres.
Ariel Miranda, making his first Major League start after being traded by the Orioles to Seattle for Wade Miley on Sunday, allowed two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts over six innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kimbrel overpowering: With the dangerous Robinson Cano at the plate in the bottom of the ninth and the winning run on base, Red Sox manager John Farrell removed lefty specialist Fernando Abad and brought on closer Craig Kimbrel. The fireballer not only got the job done in the ninth by inducing Cano into a groundout but he struck out the side in the 10th. It was part of a dominant effort by Boston's bullpen, which pitched five shutout innings while allowing just two hits.
"Guys came in and did an outstanding job," said Farrell, who enjoyed the win on his 54th birthday. "We didn't have the greatest matchups at the end with Brad and the number of left-handers that were coming to the plate, but still, he found a way to use his changeup and his offspeed pitches effectively. Craig for four outs, which might have been the sharpest he's looked all year." More >
O'Malley mash: The Mariners got a pair of runs off Pomeranz to tie the game in the fifth, with Shawn O'Malley getting things started with his first homer of the year and just the second of his career. And O'Malley's blast wasn't a cheapie as Statcast™ projected its flight at 409 feet on a first-pitch changeup. Dae-Ho Lee then tied the game on an RBI single to right. O'Malley went 3-for-5, including a bunt single to go with his home run.
"Yeah, that's nice," O'Malley said after tying his career high with the three hits. "But at the end of the day, I'd really like a 'W'. I'd take that all back for a win."
Shaw belts one off lefty: Aside from the fact Shaw's homer in the second gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead, the most significant thing about it was that it came off a lefty. Shaw entered the game hitting .193 with three homers and a .618 OPS against southpaws.
"It felt good," said Shaw. "A homer in the first at-bat helps kind of relax you for the rest of the game."
Miranda warnings: Miranda, the Mariners new southpaw, loaded the bases with one out in the first, but got out of that with a strikeout of Jackie Bradley Jr. and a flyout by Aaron Hill. He looked in trouble again in the second when Shaw led off with his home run, but the 27-year-old bore down and struck out the next three batters to end that inning and proceeded to hold the Red Sox to just one more run -- on back-to-back doubles by Bryce Brentz and Mookie Betts -- in the fifth.
"I like the way he competed," said Servais. "He didn't back off at all. I thought the way the first inning started out it could have got a little dicey, but give him a lot of credit. He hung in there. It's hard. You get traded, a Cuban player that doesn't speak hardly any English at all, but he seemed to get comfortable and threw the ball really well." More >
"I haven't had one of those in a while. To get the barrel on the ball and know it was gone when I hit it is very rare for me. That was nice to get one on the board, I guess. If it didn't [go out], I don't know what I'd have to do for this offseason workout plan." -- O'Malley on his first home run in 128 at-bats this year
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Miranda on the mound, Guillermo Heredia in left field and Leonys Martin in center, the Mariners became the first AL team with a Cuban-born starting pitcher and two Cuban position starters in the same game since the Twins started Luis Tiant, Leo Cardenas and Tony Oliva on Sept. 27, 1970.
This was only the third time this season Farrell has asked Kimbrel to record more than three outs.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Knuckleballer Steven Wright, who grew up in Southern California, will make his first career start at Dodger Stadium for Friday's 10:10 p.m. ET opener of a three-game series. This will be the first meeting between the Red Sox and Dodgers since 2013.
Mariners:Felix Hernandez (5-4, 3.46 ERA) opens a three-game series against the Angels' Tim Lincecum (2-5, 8.49) on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Safeco. Hernandez is 1-0 with a 5.60 ERA in three starts since spending nearly two months on the DL with a strained right calf.