BOSTON — Beyond the game — a 2-1 loss to Boston — the greater concern Sunday for the Mariners is a growing uncertainty regarding right-hander Taijuan Walker’s status in the rotation.
Walker exited his second straight start because of tendinitis in his right foot, which he experienced immediately despite a belief that taping his ankle would alleviate the problem.
"I felt it a little after that first at-bat," he said. "It didn’t really get any better. It felt really good leading up to today. Even in the bullpen, it felt good.
"I think just going out there, and the extra intensity — really getting after it and pushing off — made it start barking again."
Walker battled through the irritation for five innings and 88 pitches before handing a 1-0 lead to the bullpen.
"We would have liked to have kept riding him," manager Scott Servais said, "because he was getting them out. The information I got was it was best to get him out at that point.
"It’s tough, but you could start to see it; his mechanics were changing a little bit, and we didn’t want him to hurt his shoulder by staying out there (and changing his delivery to compensate for the pain)."
Boston immediately tied the game in the sixth inning against Vidal Nuno before Mookie Betts produced the game-winning run with a leadoff homer in the seventh inning against rookie Edwin Diaz.
That was enough because Red Sox ace David Price (8-4) permitted just one run in eight innings before Craig Kimbel struck out the side in the ninth for his 16th save.
The loss dropped the Mariners to 2-4 on their 10-game trip, which concludes this week with four games at Detroit. They also fell 8 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in the American League West Division.
The Mariners already have two starting pitchers on the disabled list, Felix Hernandez and Wade Miley, and now have no guarantee Walker will be able to make his scheduled start Friday against St. Louis at Safeco Field.
"It just sucks," Walker said, "because every time I push off, I feel it. If I don’t push off, I use all arm. We’re going to do what we did last time (to get ready). Probably a little extra. And see how it goes.
"I’ve just got to stay off it as much as possible. Just rest it."
The problem surfaced June 14 when Walker left a start at Tampa Bay after 3 1/3 innings because of posterior tibial tendinitis — inflammation in the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the inside of right foot.
Walker said taping his ankle Sunday "definitely helps a little bit" but admitted "it just starting bugging me again."
The Mariners opened the scoring in the fourth inning when Franklin Gutierrez sliced a full-count pitch from Price into the right-field seats just inside the Pesky Pole.
It was still 1-0 when Nuno, after replacing Walker to start the sixth, ran into immediate trouble by yielding singles by Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz. That put runners at first and third with no outs.
Bogaerts scored the tying run on Hanley Ramirez’s fielder’s-choice grounder. Diaz replaced Nuno with with one on and two outs in the inning and yielded a single and a walk.
But shortstop Ketel Marte bailed out Diaz from that mess by making a diving catch on Christian Vazquez’s liner.
It was a temporary reprieve.
Betts led off the seventh with a homer over the Green Monster in left field.
"I missed the location," Diaz said. "It was supposed to be outside, and I missed to the middle in."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Shortstop Ketel Marte protected a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning by making a diving catch on a Christian Vazquez liner with two outs and the bases loaded. The catch saved two runs.
PLUS: Catcher Chris Iannetta threw out Mookie Betts on a stolen-base attempt in the first inning. Before that, Betts was 11-for-11 on steals…Franklin Gutierrez and Robinson Cano each had two of the Mariners’ four hits. Cano raised his average to .301…reliever Nick Vincent pitched around a leadoff triple in the eighth inning.
MINUS: No Mariners player other than Gutierrez reached second base. Gutierrez did so with a homer in the fourth inning and, after a one-out single in the sixth, on Nelson Cruz’s two-out single…the Mariners failed to draw a walk for the second straight game. They failed to get a walk in only four of their previous 67 games.
STAT PACK: The Mariners entered play on June 3 tied with Texas atop the American League West Division. They now trail the Rangers by 8 1/2 games. The Mariners are just 2 1/2 games ahead of third-place Houston.
QUOTABLE: Rookie reliever Edwin Diaz pretty much ignored David Ortiz at first base after issuing an intentional two-out in the seventh inning. And Ortiz responded by lumbering to second on a stolen base.
"It never passed my mind that he would run," Diaz admitted. "I just looked one time and pitched. When I (went into my delivery), I saw him running. I said, `Wow.’ I need to keep looking at everybody."
SHORT HOPS: The Mariners have hit at least one homer in 12 straight games and in 23 of their last 25…the Mariners fell to 24-15 on Father’s Day, including 7-10 in road games…the Mariners have lost two straight "rubber" games in three-game series after opening the season by winning their first five.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners