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Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: Sox squeak past Mariners thanks to Joe Kelly, Defense

The Red Sox came out on top in another close, low-scoring affair. Exactly how they drew it up, eh?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox are winners of 4-of-5 thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Mariners in a game decided by a good outing from Joe Kelly and a better performance from Boston's defense.

With three walks and two strikeouts to his name, this can't be called the perfect game for Joe Kelly, but in many ways it was a blueprint for his success, and really what the Red Sox were hoping for all along. The name of the game for Kelly was ground balls, and for the four men close behind him brought the leather to back them up. The Mariners started their night with a fly out to left field from Seth Smith, and that was the last of Kelly's 19 outs that would come in the air.

The Mariners were not without threats. Two men would reach on a rocket and a bloop in the first, but with Xander Bogaerts making a nice diving stop on Robinson Cano's ground ball and Mike Napoli snagging Kyle Seagers', the two hits amounted to nothing. The next two innings would see six straight balls driven into the dirt, and six straight outs, with Kelly making the play on two of them himself.

In the top of the second, the Red Sox had a chance go to waste when Hanley Ramirez erased his own leadoff hit by taking off for second on a pitch in the dirt that Mike Zunino managed to corral and get to Robinson Cano in time. It's debatable whether Ramirez would have scored given that the two hits that followed were a flare into left field followed by a hard-hit single to right that would have made it difficult for Hanley to score from anywhere but third, but it stood out at the time as a wasted opportunity all the same.

Hanley Ramirez would again prove a wasted run in the fourth, but this time he was not the one to blame, with Mike Napoli grounding into a double play after Ramirez led off the inning with a line drive single. There can be little question whether this opportunity would've led to a run, as Shane Victorino hooked a fastball over the wall in left for his first homer of 2015 just two pitches later.

Now with a lead, Joe Kelly seemed in serious peril of giving it away in traditional Red Sox pitcher fashion, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning on a pair of singles and a walk. But Kelly struck out Mike Zunino on four pitches, then got Dustin Ackley to hit the ball to first. Mike Napoli almost made a mess of things, deflecting what should have been an easy out into the air, but Dustin Pedroia (who had already saved a ground ball deflected by Joe Kelly for the first out) was following the play the whole time, catching the deflection in the air and getting the ball to Kelly at first to end the inning.

The gloves couldn't quite save Kelly from damage in the sixth. After a walk from Nelson Cruz and a single from Kyle Seager put two men on with one down, Blake Swihart couldn't track down a wild pitch in time to keep the runners from advancing, allowing a routine ground ball from Logan Morrison to push a run across. Kelly would leave the game with one down in the seventh, with Tommy Layne and Matt Barnes combining to send it into the ninth still tied.

There, it was Brock Holt who got the final rally started, doubling to left to start the inning. Xander Bogaerts did a good job of moving him on to third with a bunt, and while the Red Sox called on Pablo Sandoval to pinch-hit against Fernando Rodney, the at bat lasted one pitch, with Rodney putting Sandoval on first with a solid (if not necessarily intentional) plunking. That brought Mookie Betts to the plate needing only a solid sacrifice fly to give Brock Holt a chance. He provided just that, and while Rickie Weeks might have at least had a shot at gunning down Holt with an exceptional throw, he flat-out dropped the ball at the moment of truth, allowing Betts to reach first and Holt to score with ease.

The Sox couldn't push across any extra insurance, with the Mariners finally getting Hanley Ramirez out for the first time on the night in an 8-pitch at bat. But Koji Uehara proved that was unnecessary, with a couple of soft fly balls and a nubber in front of the plate sufficient to end the game.