BOSTON — It was fitting that the end came 13 years to the day after the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox started a memorable 19-inning game with the same final score, 5-4.
But this time, the game was in Fenway Park instead of Safeco Field, and there was no Mike Cameron to win this one for the Mariners.
After 15 innings that took more than five hours to play, the Red Sox claimed the victory Wednesday when Stephen Drew laced a bases-loaded single into right field off Lucas Luetge.
“It was an outstanding game,” acting Mariners manager Robby Thompson said. “These guys battled, but unfortunately we came out on the losing side of things.”
By the time Drew’s single ended the game, it was Aug. 1 in Boston. Most Mariners fans can recall the game that started on Aug. 1, 2000, in which the Red Sox and Mariners couldn’t break a 4-4 tie at Safeco Field until the 19th inning.
Cameron ended that one in dramatic fashion — on Aug. 2 — by crushing a 2-2 pitch from Jeff Fassero into the Safeco stands for a winning home run.
The Red Sox’s win on Wednesday/Thursday didn’t have that suddenness. Luetge, who was in his third inning of work, walked Dustin Pedroia to start the inning. Pedroia moved to second on David Ortiz’s groundout to first.
With first base open, Luetge intentionally walked Mike Napoli. Luetge’s walk to Johnny Gomes with two outs wasn’t intentional.
Drew got ahead in the count and jumped on a 2-1 sinker, yanking a line drive over the head of Dustin Ackley at first base. It was the seventh time this season the Mariners have lost on a walk-off hit, and they fell to 6-10 in extra-inning games.
After the game, Thompson walked through the clubhouse, offering positive reinforcement to the frustrated players.
“I told them, ‘Way to battle’ and ‘Let’s forget about it,’ ” Thompson said. “It was a hard fought battle. They’re tough to win on the road like that. They battled to the end against a very good ball club.”
The Mariners (50-57) have lost five in a row to the Red Sox (65-44) since taking the first game of the season series July 8. The Red Sox won the next three days to take that series in Seattle, and this 15-inning affair sealed the Mariners’ first losing series since then.
“Obviously, we came up short,” Mariners left fielder Raul Ibañez said. “We battled the whole game.”
The Mariners seemed destined for defeat in the bottom of the 14th when Brandon Snyder doubled to center off Luetge, and Jacoby Ellsbury bunted him to third.
All the next batter, Shane Victorino, had to do was hit a fly ball deep enough to score Snyder. Victorino hit a fly to center. Michael Saunders showed textbook fundamentals as he caught moving forward and used his momentum to help his throw.
“We shallowed up as an outfield to make sure we could make a play,” Saunders said. “I’m trying to position myself behind the baseball and pretty much air it out.”
The result: a no-hop laser to catcher Humberto Quintero, who caught it tagged out the charging Snyder to complete an inning-ending double play.
Saunders was mobbed by teammates in the dugout, and it looked as though the Mariners’ momentum would carry to the 15th.
Ibañez singled off Drake Britton with one out, and Endy Chavez followed with a single. Saunders stepped to the plate and lashed a line drive to left field. Johnny Gomes — who isn’t known for his defense — made a brilliant, half-sliding, half-diving catch.
“I think everyone was surprised,” Saunders said. “I hit it low and hit it hard.”
Ibañez was rounding third base as Gomes made the catch and could only watch as Gomes joyously jogged in from left field and stepped on second base for the unassisted double play.
“I checked the outfield after every pitch, and I saw where they were playing and based off the trajectory of Saunders’ ball and the little fade that was on it, I didn’t think — I was certain — it was going to bounce,” Ibañez said. “Obviously, it didn’t, and he made a great play.”
Seattle coughed up a 3-2 lead in the seventh when reliever Oliver Perez allowed a two-run home run to Pedroia. But the Mariners answered in the top of the eighth as Kyle Seager blasted a solo home run to tie it at 4.
The Mariners got a solid start from Iwakuma, who was plagued by stiffness in the left side of his neck and shoulder. He was let down by his defense, however. The only two runs he allowed were unearned and came after errors by Ackley and second baseman Nick Franklin.