David Price threw eight innings of one-run ball to snap his three-game losing streak and Mookie Betts belted a go-ahead home run in the seventh as the Red Sox earned a 2-1 win over the Mariners in Sunday's rubber game at Fenway Park.
Price allowed just a solo homer to Franklin Gutierrez in the fourth as he improved to 8-4 with a 4.24 ERA. He gave up eight hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. The Red Sox had scored just five runs in Price's three previous outings and the American League's highest-scoring offense struggled again until Betts blasted his 15th homer off rookie reliever Edwin Diaz to cap a three-hit day.
"I think he's just settled into what's been his normal delivery for a number of years," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "You look at what he's done over the last eight starts, it's progressively getting better. He's been more efficient with his pitch, not only his pitch mix, but the number of pitches thrown. He's been to quality locations throughout. It's great to see a guy go out and work like he does."
"Unbelievable," David Ortiz said of Price. "He's pitching great. He's one of the best pitchers in the game so it doesn't surprise me. I knew things were going to get better and it was just a matter of time."
Mariners starter Taijuan Walker (3-6, 3.45 ERA) held the Red Sox scoreless for five innings on six hits, but was replaced by Vidal Nuno after 88 pitches and wound up with a no-decision. Manager Scott Servais said Walker's right foot was bothering him again after he'd lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his previous start.
"I would have liked to have kept riding him because he was getting them out, but the information I got, everybody felt it was best to get him out of there at that point," Servais said.
Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for his 16th save as the Red Sox stayed one game back of the first-place Orioles in the American League East, while Seattle dropped to 2-4 on its road trip and 8-15 over its last 23 games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Guti loves Fenway: Don't blame Gutierrez if he tries staying behind when the Mariners head on to Detroit to continue their road trip. The 33-year-old outfielder homered down the right-field line leading off the fourth for the game's first run, his third homer of the series. Gutierrez has five homers in his last three starts in Boston dating to last season. Including games in Seattle, Gutierrez has nine hits (with six homers and a double) and 12 RBIs in his last 19 at-bats against Boston.
"Move forward," Price said on his thoughts after giving up the home run. "If he doesn't call it a strike and he doesn't swing, it's a walk. So you can't worry about that. And I didn't. I didn't execute that 3-2 pitch and he hits lefties extremely well."
Sox capitalize: With runners on the corners and none out for the second time, Boston didn't waste a crucial opportunity to get on the board and Hanley Ramirez delivered with his 39th RBI of the season. His forceout at second scored Xander Bogaerts from third to tie the game at 1 in the sixth inning.
"We created a number of opportunities, many guys in scoring position," Farrell said. "Particularly in a first-and-third situation with Bogey and David coming to the plate, it's typically been at least one run on the board. We didn't cash in on those opportunities, but all along, Price was just strong. He was outstanding."
Rally killers: The Mariners came up with some key defensive plays in the sixth, including a diving catch by shortstop Ketel Marte to rob Christian Vazquez on a bases-loaded line drive to end the inning. Ramirez also was caught napping at first when Nuno threw over and picked Ramirez off without even an attempt to dive back, taking the potential go-ahead run off base. That loomed large when the next three Red Sox reached base, including an 11-pitch walk by Travis Shaw against the hard-throwing Diaz, before Marte's diving stop kept the score tied at 1.
"We did limit the damage," Servais said after the Red Sox went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 on the day. "That's a good club. But it's going to take more than one run to beat them in this ballpark. We just didn't get it done today."
Betts believe it: The Red Sox outfielder went deep in the seventh inning for his 15th home run on a rocket to left field. The homer traveled 386 feet from the plate with an exit velocity of 100 mph, according to Statcast™. Betts has now reached base safely in each of his last 20 games, including 18 hits. More >
PAPI IS SPEED DEMON Ortiz's steal of second base in the seventh inning lifted the crowd to its feet. It was the 40-year-old slugger's second steal of the season and 17th of his career after he was intentionally walked by Diaz. Ortiz received a standing ovation as he trotted back to the dugout. More >
"[The standing O] motivated me to steal more bags now. It was great, it's fun. The fans just enjoy watching all of us,"Ortiz said.
"It never passed my mind that he would run," said Diaz, a 22-year-old pitching in just his fifth big league game. "I just came set, looked one time and pitched. When I saw him running I said, 'Wow.' I need to keep looking at everybody."
QUOTABLES "He's got an electric fastball, but in this league you've got to have a secondary pitch. It's been inconsistent. But we'll keep working with it. He's not a finished product, he's a young player we're trying to get established right now. And he will. He will help us and we'll continue going to him in those spots and he'll get it done." -- Servais, on Diaz, who again hit 100 mph on the radar gun
"It is big for him to steal a base and also a little funny. He got into scoring position. Just to see a 40-year-old guy steal a base is always fun to watch." -- Betts, on Ortiz
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Right-hander Nathan Karns (5-2, 4.06 ERA) gets the start on Monday at 4:10 p.m. PT against the Tigers in the series opener at Comerica Park. Karns was 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in two appearances -- including one start -- against the Tigers while with the Rays last year.
Red Sox: Knuckleballer Steven Wright (8-4, 2.22) will seek his sixth straight win on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET in the opener a four-game series against the White Sox at Fenway Park. Wright gave up two runs and three hits in a 4-1 loss the last time he faced Chicago on May 3.