Closing Time: Joe Kelly, Mookie Betts hand Red Sox win over Mariners

Rob Bradford
May 14, 2015 - 9:02 pm
What was supposed to be a brutal stretch for the Red Sox -- facing two aces (Sonny Gray, Felix Hernandez) and three Seattle lefties -- hasn't started too badly for John Farrell's team. Behind the pitching of Joe Kelly, overall defense and solid situational hitting, the Red Sox managed to claim a 2-1 win over the Mariners on Thursday night at Safeco Field. The Red Sox are over .500 on their current 10-game road trip, improving to 4-3 with their second straight win. They now reside 3 1/2 games in back of first-place New York. The Red Sox were able to seal the victory in the ninth inning when Mookie Betts' fly ball to deep left field was dropped by Rickie Weeks, allowing Brock Holt to score the game-winner from third. Holt, who led off the frame with a double to left-center and was sacrificed to third, would have scored easily even without the drop. The decisive run came against Seattle closer Fernando Rodney, who entered the game with a 6.47 ERA against the Sox. Before the game-winner, Kelly served as the highlight for the Red Sox, turning in one of his best outings of the season. The starter prioritized pitching to contact, needing 91 pitches to get through 6 1/3 innings, while managing all but one of his outs via the ground ball. When it was all said and done Kelly had lowered his ERA to 5.58, allowing one run on five hits, striking out two and walking three. SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Joe Kelly. The Red Sox desperately needed the kind of outing the righty gave them considering their offensive struggles. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- Shane Victorino showed some signs of life, giving the Red Sox an early lead with his first homer of the season. The righty hitter, who came into the game hitting .459 with a 1.419 OPS against the Mariners, reached safely in his first three plate appearances (single, HR, walk). -- Hanley Ramirez finished with four hits. It was the 20th time in Ramirez's career he has notched that many hits, with his teams now going 19-1 in such games. -- Kelly managed to get out of a huge jam in the fourth inning after loading the bases with just one out. The Red Sox starter first struck out Mike Zunino, and then got Dustin Ackley to ground out on a 3-1 fastball for the inning-ender. The final out was due in large part to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who caught the deflection off of Mike Napoli's glove and flipped to a covering Kelly. Red Sox pitchers came into the game with a .375 batting average against with the bases full. -- It was a little thing, but after failing to execute a bunt in his first two tries with nobody out and Xander Bogaerts at first base in the seventh inning, Blake Swihart got the sacrifice down with two strikes. -- Victorino made one of the better defensive plays of the season, racing back into the right field corner on a deep fly ball off the bat of Justin Ruggiano with one out and one on in the seventh. The right fielder raced back, reached up behind his head and snatched the ball before throwing it into first base for the inning-ending double play. -- Koji Uehara picked up his eighth save in nine attempts, pitching a perfect ninth. He has now gone seventh straight outings without giving up a hit. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- Kelly was cruising along until he finally allowed Seattle to tie things up in the sixth. The frame initially seemed fairly innocuous, with Nelson Cruz drawing a one-out walk before Kyle Seager ripped a single to right. After a wild pitched moved the runners up 90 feet, Logan Morrison's ground out to second base served as the equalizer. -- Red Sox hitters once again had their troubles with a lefty, this time being shut down by Seattle starter Roenis Elias. The Cuban southpaw allowed just one run on eight hits over his 6 1/3 innings. Another Mariners lefty, Charlie Furbush, also got a key out by inducing an inning-ending fly out off the bat of David Ortiz with runners on first and second in the seventh. The Sox came into the game hitting .180 against lefties. -- After getting the leadoff man on in the eighth inning, Ramirez was immediately negated after being thrown out trying to steal second. The left fielder, who has the ninth-most steals in the majors since 2006, is not 1-for-3 in steal attempts this season.