Series: Game 3 of 3

Seattle won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, July 21
Game 2: Saturday, July 22
Game 3: Sunday, July 23

Red Sox 8

(59-38, 27-25 away)

Mariners 9

(47-51, 26-25 home)

4:05 PM ET, July 23, 2006

Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington 

123456789 R H E
BOS 003013001 8 12 0
SEA 302000211 9 14 1

W: J. Putz (2-0)

L: M. Timlin (5-1)

HR happy: Beltre legs it out, Sexson walks off in M's win

SEATTLE (AP) -- After giving up a tying homer to Boston's Jason Varitek in the top of the ninth inning, J.J. Putz landed his counter-punch.

Elias Says

Jon Lester started for the Red Sox at Seattle on Sunday after Kason Gabbard made his big-league debut in that role on Saturday. It was the first time in almost 25 years that Boston started rookie left-handed pitchers in consecutive games (since Bruce Hurst and Bob Ojeda in September 1981).

Richie Sexson led off the ninth inning with a game-ending homer off Mike Timlin to give the Mariners a 9-8 win. It was the 20th time in his career that Timlin was on the mound for a walk-off loss. Only three current pitchers have met that fate more often than Timlin: Roberto Hernandez (30 times), Trevor Hoffman (23) and Mike Stanton (22).

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Three of them, actually. Directly into the gut of Seattle teammate Richie Sexson.

Sexson was glad to take his buddies' shots Sunday. They came during a home plate celebration after his game-winning home run off Mike Timlin that aptly finished the Mariners' wild, 9-8 victory over the Red Sox at rocking, sold-out Safeco Field.

"Crazy game. Back and forth," Boston manager Terry Francona said.

"Weird," Putz said.

He was just getting over Varitek's jolting home run -- the second Putz has allowed this season -- and his fourth blown save in 23 chances. Then Sexson supplied his own stunner leading off the bottom of the ninth.

"The coolest thing in baseball is the walk-off home run. The whole team comes out. You get to punch the guy in the stomach," Putz said. "Yeah, I got in two or three good ones."

Sexson's shot off Timlin (5-1) came after Varitek drove Putz's slider off a second-deck restaurant window. Putz (2-0) had just struck out mighty David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in succession.

That sequence came after Adrian Beltre hit the first inside-the-park homer at Safeco Field against Timlin, who allowed only one home run in 38 appearances before Sunday.

Boston failed to extend its AL East lead, which remained 2½ games over the New York Yankees.

"Totally my fault," Timlin said after giving up two homers for the first time since April 30, 2002.

Sexson hit his 20th home run but is batting just .227. He seemed offended by the notion that this was as big a contribution as he's had in his -- and the Mariners' -- maddening, uneven season. Seattle is four games under .500, yet only four games back in the AL West.

"Hey, I've had some good games now," the slugger said. "But against a great team, and with us still in the race, yeah, it's big."

To which Putz added: "Awesome. I bought him a beer as soon as I got in here."

Buying beer in an everything-is-free clubhouse? It fit this crazy day.

Beltre's zany trip around the bases put the Mariners up 8-7 in the eighth. His two-out drive off Timlin banged off the top of the left-center fence. Beltre kept running as Coco Crisp lost the drive in a blazing sun -- the ball landed 10 feet behind him.

"I saw the third-base coach waving me home and I said, 'Oh, OK," Beltre said. "I had no idea what happened when I got to home plate."

Here's what happened: Ramirez whiffed on a barehanded pickup try. Crisp's wild throw then missed two cutoff men. Beltre, with his batting helmet flying off and his jersey coming out at the belt, didn't stop until he slid home ahead of Mike Lowell's throw for the first inside-the-park homer in the seven-year history of Safeco Field.

"I took my eyes off it and ran back to the spot I thought it would be," Crisp said. "I thought I was going to rob it, and it came out right behind me."

It was Beltre's third RBI of the game. He hit a two-run double in a three-run first.

He said he'd never been in a game with an inside-the-park home run -- let alone hit one.

"It says something," he said of Seattle's two rallies. "Here is one of the best teams in the major leagues. Our team might not be one of the best, but we have a pretty good shot to win the West."

Ortiz and Ramirez each knocked in two runs for the Red Sox. Varitek had three RBI.

Trailing 7-5, the Mariners tied it with two runs in the seventh off Manny Delcarmen. Kenji Johjima hit an RBI double with two outs and Yuniesky Betancourt followed with a run-scoring single.

Eduardo Perez hit a two-run homer in the third off Red Sox rookie Jon Lester. It was Perez's first home run since the Mariners traded with Cleveland for him on June 30.

Lester, from nearby Puyallup, Wash., was pitching in front of about 50 friends and family, including his high school coach. He allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings, striking out four and walking one. He received a big bear hug from Ortiz in the dugout upon his exit.

Lester got a no-decision and remained 5-0 partly because of two sixth-inning misplays by 20-year-old Seattle rookie Adam Jones in center field. Jones lost Kevin Youkilis' pop fly in the sun for a single. Then the converted shortstop dropped Ortiz's single for an error.

Ortiz's major league-leading 94th RBI gave Boston a 6-5 lead. The error put Mark Loretta in position to score from third on Ramirez's sacrifice fly, making it 7-5.

Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out six.

Game notes

Betancourt extended his hitting streak to 12 games, matching a career high. ... Perez's home run was the first allowed by a Boston pitcher in nine games -- ending the team's longest streak since 2002.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press