E-Rod, Sox blank Mariners, win 5th straight

E-Rod, Sox blank Mariners, win 5th straight

BOSTON -- Unlike the New England weather, Boston's baseball team is heating up. Amid more cool and rainy conditions on Friday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox downed the Mariners, 3-0, to run their winning streak to a season-high five games.

At 26-21, Boston is five games above .500 for the first time this season. Eduardo Rodriguez (4-1, 2.77 ERA) led the way by firing six sharp innings en route to his seventh straight quality start.

For the first time since April 18, the Red Sox are as high as second place in the American League East and they trail the Yankees by only two games.

Season shaping up as E-Rod's breakout

Rodriguez goes six scoreless

"More than anything, there's been different ways we've done it," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It hasn't just been outscoring by big margins. It's been quality pitching, consistent pitching, it's been timely hitting as well. You put a streak together, there's going to be different ways we do seal a win, but it's been really good to see, no doubt."

There wasn't much doing offensively on either side. The only RBI of the game came from Josh Rutledge, who scored Hanley Ramirez with a fielder's-choice grounder to second in the second.

The Mariners have scored just nine runs in dropping six of their past seven and sit at 21-28. Shortstop Jean Segura went 3-for-4, but Seattle totaled just six hits and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

"Again offensively, we struggled to put innings together," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "That's kind of been the story here for the last week or so. We just have not got the line moving at all, for whatever reason. Seems like we start to get something going and then we don't get the big hit. Guys are frustrated by it. We all are. We're better than that offensively. It's not happening right now."

In a losing effort, Yovani Gallardo hung in there for the Mariners' depleted rotation, allowing three runs over 5 1/3 innings despite equaling a career high with six walks.

Gallardo's gutsy effort for naught in shutout

After the Red Sox added a couple of insurance runs in the sixth on a wild pitch and a passed ball, the bullpen shut down Seattle over the final three frames, culminating with closer Craig Kimbrel registering his 13th save in 14 opportunities.

Kimbrel retires Motter for win

Kimbrel has been on a surreal run, retiring 55 of the past 59 batters he's faced, and 35 of the past 37.

"I mean, every time he comes in the ninth inning, you know we're going to win," said Rodriguez. "That's what I'm thinking when I see him in the game. He's something special. Every time, he's striking people out, getting ground balls."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bradley nails Valencia: In the top of the second inning, Danny Valencia lofted a drive off the Monster and then paid for some over-aggressive baserunning. Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. fielded the carom and fired a strike to second, nailing Valencia. If Valencia had held at first, the Mariners would have had runners at the corners with nobody out. Rodriguez got out of the jam with no runs, getting Taylor Motter on a shallow liner to left and striking out Ben Gamel.

Bradley Jr. throws out Valencia

"We talked about it before the game," Servais said. "Obviously Bradley has a very good arm in center field and they know how to play the angles of that wall. He did a nice job getting it in quickly. Players get amped up. You hit a ball good, you want to get a double. That was really our only true threat, that inning, with first and third and nobody out."

Seattle sloppiness helps Red Sox add insurance: When the Red Sox finally added to their 1-0 lead with two runs in the sixth, they had plenty of help from the Mariners. Gallardo walked Bradley and No. 9 hitter Deven Marrero to load the bases with one out. A wild pitch by Gallardo brought home Rutledge.

Rutledge scores on a wild pitch

And catcher Mike Zunino's passed ball on the first pitch from reliever Dan Altavilla allowed Bradley to race home to make it 3-0.

Passed ball scores Bradley Jr.

QUOTABLE
"Craig has been this good for what, six years? I think he's been undoubtedly the best closer in baseball as long as he's been in the league. Guy throws anywhere from 97-100 mph from down here -- rises, moves -- and then he has a breaking ball that comes right off of that. You guys are watching and having as much fun watching as I am." -- Red Sox setup man Matt Barnes, on Kimbrel

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Right-handed hitters are 0-for-39 this season against Kimbrel.

WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: Rob Whalen makes his first start and first appearance for Seattle in Saturday's 1:05 p.m. PT game at Fenway. The 23-year-old right-hander started five games for the Braves last year (1-2, 6.57 ERA), but missed most of Spring Training with shoulder and calf issues after being acquired in a November trade.

Red Sox: Lefty Brian Johnson will make his second spot start of the season when the Red Sox recall him from Triple-A Pawtucket to pitch Saturday's 4:05 p.m. ET game. This is Johnson's first career start at Fenway Park. He beat the Blue Jays on April 18 in Toronto, giving up four runs over five innings.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.