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BOS@SEA: Beckett throws six strong innings in return

SEATTLE -- Again, Cody Ross had the baseball in his hand, hoping to prolong the baseball game. And there was Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the second time in three nights, hoping he would snag the throw from the right fielder and tag the runner out at the plate.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, there was yet one more similarity from Thursday night. The Mariners walked off with the win, this time by a score of 3-2 in 11 innings Saturday night at Safeco Field.

With runners at the corners and one out, Chone Figgins lined one into right that was just deep enough for the Mariners to send Dustin Ackley from third.

Ross was hoping to hit Saltalamacchia on the fly. Instead, the throw one-hopped Saltalamacchia, and it squirted by the catcher, as Ackley raced home for the win.

"It's a do or die play," said Ross. "Chone did a great job of making some good contact. It's a tough play, topspin on it, you've got to worry about catching it first and then making an accurate throw. I thought it was going to get there the whole way. It ended up short-hopping Salty, and that's a tough play for him to make. Two tough ones the last couple of days. That's baseball."

The Red Sox will try to salvage a split of this four-game set on Sunday afternoon, when Felix Doubront takes the mound.

Both of their losses in this series have been heartbreakers. The Sox lost Thursday night on a walk-off single by John Jaso in the ninth. On that one, Jaso would have been out at the plate had Saltalamacchia held on to the throw from Ross.

This time, Ackley appeared to have the throw beat anyway.

"It was a little tougher, I think, just because the ball had a little top spin," said Saltalamacchia. "Cody had to run in on it, catch it a little lower than usual and it short-hopped me a little bit. It was one of those plays that was kind of do-or-die on both sides of it. It's a lot different than [Thursday night]."

With the loss, the Red Sox fell to 0-5 in extra-inning games this season.

The play at the plate might have capped the loss, but it was hardly the reason for it.

Offensively, the Red Sox managed to crank out 11 hits, but they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

"I thought we had some opportunities and it was just one of those nights," said manager Bobby Valentine. "We couldn't find the hole and didn't come up with the big one."

Ackley started the winning rally against closer Alfredo Aceves with a one-out single to right. Miguel Olivo followed by fighting off an inside pitch and blooping it into short right, as Ackley raced to third.

Figgins did just enough to put Seattle in the win column.

"Look for something to drive, because you don't want to take a non-aggressive swing," Figgins said. "Because if you just hit a fly ball, you've got a chance to score a run. So you really always think attack with a runner on third base less than two outs. That's the one chance you get to try to hit a home run, so you don't want to back off your swing, you really want to be aggressive on it."

In defeat, the silver lining for the Red Sox was the strong comeback performance by Josh Beckett. The right-hander gave up four hits and two runs over six innings, walking three and striking out four. He threw 85 pitches, 55 of them for strikes. It was Beckett's first start since June 11, as he had been sidelined with right shoulder inflammation.

For the third straight start, Beckett declined to speak to the media after the game.

"Beckett, it's good to have him back," Valentine said. "He threw strikes, was aggressive. He had a pretty good curveball going tonight, a lot of curveballs."

One night after Aaron Cook fired a two-hit shutout against the Mariners, Beckett had a no-hitter through 4 2/3 innings, but Olivo broke it up with a clean single to left.

"JB, for his first time out after being on the DL, he did a great job," Saltalamacchia said. "Changeup was a little rusty, but all in all, he kept us in the ballgame and had a no-hitter going through five. We've just got to do a better job of getting some runs on the board."

Boston's offensive struggles gave the Mariners the chance to jump in front the first time they produced any kind of rally against Beckett.

With one out in the sixth, Ichiro Suzuki placed a one-out single into left. After a walk to Casper Wells, Beckett induced a soft popup off the bat of Kyle Seager. Left fielder Daniel Nava and shortstop Mike Aviles converged on it, and neither player attempted to make a catch as the ball fell in for a single. That became especially painful when John Jason hammered a two-run double off the wall in right to make it 2-0, Seattle.

The miscommunication might have stemmed from Nava not being part of the Sox's roster during Spring Training, when they practiced those type of plays.

"I think Daniel called Mike's name," said Valentine. "He wasn't with us in Spring Training and didn't have our communication down."

Boston bounced right back in the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez started the rally with a single up the middle. Will Middlebrooks busted his bat, but he fought the ball off for a bloop single into left. Ross smashed a single, loading them up with nobody out. Ryan Kalish hit a fielder's-choice grounder to second that drove in Gonzalez, making it 2-1. And The Sox tied it up when catcher Olivo had a passed ball.

It stayed like that until the 11th, when the Red Sox again had to watch a Mariners walk-off celebration.

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