BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox trailed by five runs when Daniel Nava walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, and the hopes of a second consecutive walkoff win were too remote to consider.
“I don’t think anybody saw that coming,” Nava said, describing the “tempered excitement” in the dugout as the bases filled and emptied during a six-run ninth inning that gave Boston an 8-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night. “You could see it happening, but it was still too far off.”
By the time the Red Sox batted around the order, and Nava came up again, the score was tied, the bases were loaded and there was still only one out. Nava lined a long single over the center fielder to bring the Boston players out of the dugout for the increasingly familiar celebration.
One night after winning in 15 innings for their major league-leading 10th walkoff victory, the Red Sox did it again to sweep Seattle and open a one-game lead in the AL East over the idle Tampa Bay Rays.
“We don’t quit. Ever,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We truly believe we have a chance to do something special on a given night or given year. And that happens to be this year.”
Henry Blanco hit a grand slam, and Felix Hernandez allowed six hits before leaving after seven innings with a 7-1 lead. Kendrys Morales had four hits and a pair of walks, and Kyle Seager and Brad Miller tripled for the Mariners, who have lost 17 games in the opponent’s final at-bat — including eight walkoff losses.
“We’ve been through this before,” first baseman Justin Smoak said, “too many times.”
Hernandez seemed to be cruising to his seventh consecutive victory, but the Red Sox scored one in the eighth against Charlie Furbush and then cut it to 7-3 against closer Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth. Perez (2-3) came on with the bases loaded and nobody out, giving up Shane Victorino’s two-run single and an RBI base hit to Dustin Pedroia that made it 7-6.
David Ortiz struck out, then Jonny Gomes singled off Yoervis Medina to tie it. Stephen Drew, who provided the decisive hit on Wednesday night, walked to load the bases before Nava hit a ball off the garage door in center field as the Red Sox celebrated.
“We were trying to forget what happened yesterday,” said Perez, who blew a seventh-inning lead on Wednesday night and took the loss on Thursday even though he was the only one of the three relievers who pitched in the ninth to record an out. “We just couldn’t complete three outs. Everything went their way in the ninth.”
Steven Wright (2-0) pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Ryan Dempster. Victorino homered for Boston, which was in danger of falling out of first place, percentage points behind the Rays, in the AL East.
On the day that Jake Peavy arrived in the dugout to bolster the Boston pitching staff for the stretch run, Dempster made a case to lose his spot in the rotation. He gave up seven runs on nine hits and five walks, striking out six in six innings.
It was 2-1 after Jacoby Ellsbury doubled and scored in the third, but Dempster ran into trouble against Blanco — a .189 hitter — in the fifth.
With Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk watching from the luxury boxes, the Mariners catcher hit a line drive over the Green Monster just inside the left-field foul pole to give Seattle a 7-1 lead.
Hernandez, who had yet to record a 1-2-3 inning, then set down the Red Sox in order in the fifth and sixth innings.
ORIOLES 6, ASTROS 3
BALTIMORE — One day after being acquired from Houston, Bud Norris dominated his former teammates over six innings in his Orioles debut, and Baltimore got a home run from Chris Davis to beat Houston.
The only runs Norris (7-9) allowed were on solo homers by Brett Wallace and Mark Krauss. The right-hander gave up four hits, walked two, and his season-high eight strikeouts included three by cleanup hitter Chris Carter.
Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 37th save.
Davis hit his major league-leading 39th home run in the seventh, a solo shot that gave him 100 RBIs for the season. He is the 39th player in club history to reach the 100-RBI mark and the first since Nick Markakis in 2009.
Jordan Lyles (4-5) took the loss.
ROYALS 7, TWINS 2
MINNEAPOLIS — The Kansas City Royals won their ninth straight game, stretching their longest winning streak in more than a decade by beating Minnesota behind Billy Butler’s hitting and Lorenzo Cain’s highlight reel catch in center field.
The Royals last won nine straight when they opened the 2003 season at 9-0. The last time Kansas City won more in a row was a 10-game string in 1994, STATS said.
Butler had two hits and drove in two runs. Justin Maxwell had a hit and an RBI a day after being acquired in a trade with Houston.
James Shields (6-7) gave up two runs on five hits and five walks in six innings for the Royals.
Scott Diamond (5-10) gave up seven runs and nine hits in five innings and was sent to Triple-A. Justin Morneau homered and doubled for the Twins.
INDIANS 6, WHITE SOX 1
CLEVELAND — Ryan Raburn homered twice and drove in four runs and the Cleveland Indians won their eighth consecutive game, topping the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians have won 13 of 17 and completed a four-game sweep of the reeling White Sox, who have dropped seven in a row and are 26 games under .500 for the first time since 1980.
Justin Masterson (13-7) outpitched Chris Sale (6-11) in a matchup of All-Stars.
ANGELS 8, BLUE JAYS 2
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mark Trumbo homered in the Angels’ four-run first inning, Garrett Richards allowed four hits over seven strong innings, and Los Angeles snapped its six-game losing streak.
J.B. Shuck drove in three runs for the Angels, who avoided their longest skid in more than three years by pounding Toronto starter Josh Johnson for 10 hits in the opener of a four-game series between underachieving clubs expected to be AL contenders.
With plenty of offensive support, Richards (3-4) was dominant in his first home start since April 20 and his second start since rejoining the Angels’ rotation, allowing two runs and striking out four.
Colby Rasmus had two hits and scored a run for Toronto, which had won five of seven.
Trumbo hit his 24th homer off Johnson (1-8), whose first career start against the Angels was a disaster. After allowing seven runs, Johnson was chased in the third inning with the bases loaded. His career-worst losing streak stretched to six starts.
CARDINALS 13, PIRATES 0
PITTSBURGH — Joe Kelly and the St. Louis Cardinals averted a five-game sweep at Pittsburgh, ending a season-worst seven-game losing streak in a matchup between the NL’s top two teams.
St. Louis began the series with a 2½-game lead in the NL Central but left with the Pirates ahead by 1½ games. The Cardinals avoided their first sweep in a set of at least five games since 1916, when the New York Giants took all six games.
Pittsburgh had won the previous four games at PNC Park by a combined score of 36-10.
Kelly (2-3) pitched six scoreless innings and had two hits. Tony Cruz added three hits, including a two-run double during an eight-run seventh inning.
Charlie Morton (3-3) gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings. He is 2-8 in his career against St. Louis.
BRAVES 11, ROCKIES 2
ATLANTA— Justin Upton drove in five runs with two homers, Julio Teheran matched his career high with 11 strikeouts, and Atlanta beat Colorado for its seventh straight win.
Jason Heyward added a two-run homer, and Chris Johnson had three hits as the Braves completed a four-game sweep of the Rockies. The Braves outscored the Rockies 31-5 in the last three games of the series.
Atlanta’s 7-0 homestand also included three wins over St. Louis.
The NL East-leading Braves stretched their lead over Washington to 11½ games.
Teheran (8-5) struck out the side in the third and fifth innings. He lasted only five innings, allowing one run and five hits and two walks, in his third straight start of allowing no more than one run.
Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-1), called up from Double-A Tulsa for his major league debut, allowed five runs and six hits and five walks in five innings.
GIANTS 2, PHILLIES 1
PHILADELPHIA — Joaquin Arias and pinch-hitter Roger Kieschnick had RBI singles off Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the ninth inning, then Sergio Romo escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half as San Francisco beat Philadelphia.
Matt Cain (7-6) gave up one run and six hits in eight innings. The struggling ace lowered his ERA to 4.57.
Cole Hamels allowed seven hits and struck out five in eight scoreless innings. He left with a 1-0 lead that he gave himself with an RBI single.
Then Papelbon (2-1) blew it — a familiar scene for the 2012 All-Star closer. He started the season 13 for 13 in save opportunities, but is 7 for 13 since. He heard loud boos throughout the inning and when he walked to the dugout.
The Phillies are 2-10 since the All-Star break and have dropped to 9½ games behind Cincinnati for the second wild-card spot in the NL.
MARLINS 3, METS 0
MIAMI — Tom Koehler pitched six effective innings, and Miami stalled Matt Harvey once again, beating the New York Mets.
Logan Morrison’s two-out single broke a scoreless tie in the sixth. Donovan Solano added a two-run single later in the inning.
Harvey (8-3) allowed three runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. The NL’s All-Star starter struck out eight.
Harvey’s three shortest outings this season have come at Marlins Park. The All-Star is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in four starts against the Marlins this season while going 8-2 with a 1.97 ERA against the rest of the majors.
The Marlins are the lowest-scoring team in the majors and have the worst record in the NL.
Koehler (3-6) gave up five hits, walked five and struck out five. A.J. Ramos pitched two innings, and Steve Cishek worked the ninth for his 23rd save in 25 chances.
It was the first time the Mets had been shut out since May 25 against Atlanta.
DODGERS 6, CUBS 4
CHICAGO — Yasiel Puig hit a long home run and scored two runs to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Chicago Cubs.
Hanley Ramirez and Jerry Hairston each drove in two runs for the Dodgers, who got a win a night after having a four-game winning streak snapped. Los Angeles is 11-2 since the All-Star break.
Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo each homered twice for the Cubs, who lost for the fourth time in five games. Chicago had only five hits.
Dodgers starter Ricky Nolasco (7-9) allowed three solo home runs and lasted just five innings, but earned the win. Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 15th save.
Cubs starter Chris Rusin (1-1) was sharp in the fourth and fifth innings, but appeared to get tired in the sixth. He was pulled after allowing a single and a walk to the first two batters.