SEATTLE The longest Red Sox skid in more than a decade lasted only a week.
It felt much longer to those involved in Boston’s downward spiral that finally came to an end on Tuesday night.
“It feels good to shake hands. It’s been a while. It seems like a really long time,” Boston outfielder Cody Ross said.
Ross hit a tying three-run homer in the sixth inning, Ryan Lavarnway connected two batters later and the Red Sox snapped their seven-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
The Red Sox were looking at an eighth straight setback with another lackluster effort on this miserable road trip before pulling even thanks to a rally that took just six pitches.
Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury opened the sixth with singles off Seattle starter Blake Beavan (9-9) before Ross hit his 20th homer of the season. After recovering to get two outs, Beavan left a pitch up in the zone to Lavarnway and he lined his first homer off the out of town scoreboard beyond the left field bullpens.
“Our guys looked happy after the game,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “It’s great to see them with smiles and coming from behind … it was a good win. Maybe it will get something started.”
The Red Sox appeared ready for the losing to end, with most leaping to the dugout railing to see Ross’ homer sail over the head of left fielder Trayvon Robinson. Boston had previously missed scoring chances in the first, second and fifth innings with runners in scoring position.
The quick turn of fortunes for Boston made a winner out of Jon Lester (9-11), who gave up consecutive homers to Franklin Gutierrez and Kyle Seager in the third, but otherwise avoided damage.
Eric Thames hit a two-out, two-strike triple in the ninth for Seattle off Andrew Bailey to keep the Mariners hopes alive. But Bailey got Seager to fly out to right to end it for his second save in three chances.
Boston’s seven-game slide started with the opening of a West Coast swing through Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle. According to the Red Sox, from information provided by the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time Boston had dropped the first seven games of a road trip since 1960. The losing streak was the longest since a nine-game skid during the 2001 season.
The losing streak seemed to be the cap to a miserable last few months for the Red Sox, who have tumbled to fourth place in the AL East. Speculation about Valentine’s future hit a peak here when general manager Ben Cherington and owner John Henry joined the team.
But Ross and others are trying to make clear that even though the Red Sox are out of the playoff race there is still something worth playing for during the final month.
“There’s a lot at stake right now,” Ross said. “Even though we’re not in the hunt there’s jobs at stake, guys have to stay hungry and go out and battle and win a spot for next year, whether you’re a young kid or a free agent or whatever.”
Pedroia’s single to start the inning extended his hitting streak to a season-high 15 games. Following Ross’ homer, Beavan recovered to get James Loney and Jared Saltalamacchia on fly outs before Lavarnway came through with his first home run for the Red Sox since a two-homer game Sept. 27, 2011, against Baltimore.
Lester needed 111 pitches to get through six innings, but worked out of jams in the first and second innings leaving runners stranded at third base. Jesus Montero had three hits off Lester, including a two-out RBI single in the first. Gutierrez homered to deep center field on the first pitch of the third inning and, two pitches later, Seager hit his 16th of the season into the right field seats.
Lester gave up nine hits for the second straight start, but struck out four and won for the fourth time in his last five outings.
“It wasn’t easy, a bit of a grind, but it’s big for us to score those runs in that inning and have the bullpen come in there and do a good job after that,” Lester said.