For the first four innings, this was a story Red Sox fans had become all too used to. A mediocre pitcher shutting down the Red Sox offense, even threatening some no-hit fun for a while. The fact that is was David Pauley, who had been so marvelously bad for the Red Sox in previous years, only made it worse.
Thank goodness, then, that the Sox didn't let him keep it going. The Sox started wearing away at Pauley in the middle innings, as Marco Scutaro broke up a streak on nine straight batters retired to start the game with a double and the Sox managed two baserunners in the fifth before a sharp lineout to left ended the threat. By the time the sixth came around, Pauley was looking mortal.
Marco Scutaro started things off with a soft single to third base. The desperation throw pulled first baseman Casey Kotchman off the bag, and the rally was started. After a J.D. Drew flyout, Victor Martinez singled on a ground ball and David Ortiz walked to load the bases with one out, bringing up Adrian Beltre.
While Beltre has been one of the Red Sox' best hitters this year, he has not been the greatest hitter with the bases loaded. So when a sharp ground ball found Pauley's foot and bounced towards the foul line, he and the Sox were more than willing to take it and the 1-0 lead it provided. A sacrifice fly later, and the Sox were up 2-0 with runners at second and third. It was Daniel Nava who put the final nail in Pauley's coffin, lacing a line drive into right to put the Sox up by four.
Through the first six innings, it didn't look like the Red Sox would need that many runs on the board. Josh Beckett had quieted the Mariners offense, holding them to just one hit and one walk. Things changed suddenly in the seventh, though, as within the span of six pitches, Russel Branyan and Casey Kotchman both smacked homers into right field, bringing the Mariners back within one.
That was as close as the Mariners would get, though. One insurance run off the bat of Darnell McDonald (in for Nava) wasn't needed, as Bard would allow only one baserunner while recording five outs, setting up Papelbon for a clean ninth inning.
Not much time to rest for the Red Sox. A real battle of the aces starts later tonight as Jon Lester gets the start vs. King Felix.