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Seattle can't checkout a victory

Seattle can't checkout a victory

BOSTON -- It's tough enough to pitch to Manny Ramirez with a game on the line. It's even tougher when the Red Sox slugger has some help; and Mariners manager Mike Hargrove thought Ramirez had some help before hitting his second home run of the game with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday night.

The shot cleared the Red Sox's bullpen in right field and gave Boston, which found itself in a five-run hole after Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled in the first inning, an 8-7 win over Seattle in the makeup of an April 12 rainout.

"We had Manny struck out," an angry Hargrove said after his team's three-game winning streak ended with the second loss in the last nine games. "Plain and simple, we had him struck out."

He had nothing left to say. Hargrove was angered over a check-swing call that went in Ramirez's favor on a 2-1 pitch from Chris Reitsma. The call, by first-base umpire Tom Hallion, made the count 3-1. Ramirez took strike two and then hit the 475th homer of his career, tying him for 27th place on the all-time homer list.

"I thought he went around," said Reitsma (0-1). "From my angle, from being directly in front on the pitcher's mound, you can't really tell. That's his discretion, but, yeah, it does definitely change the complexion of that at-bat, for sure."

Asked how it changes the at-bat, Reitsma, a Red Sox first-round draft pick in 1996, said, "It's a strike instead of a ball. You finish the rest of the at-bat a different way, but it's no excuse. Bottom line is I made a bad pitch in a tight spot and he hit it out. There's really no excuses, except for that."

The homer, followed by the Mariners' inability to score in the ninth, ended a crazy night that saw Horacio Ramirez quickly squander the 5-0 lead as the Red Sox scored five runs in the bottom of the second. The first Manny Ramirez homer made it 7-5 in the fourth and the Mariners tied it again in the fifth.

"I'm just out there trying to get guys out and I wasn't able to do that tonight," said Horacio Ramirez. "I don't know what happened that inning. ... When you've got a good hitting team like that, you can't pitch from behind. You can't pitch like that against a good team.

"I don't know. It just didn't go my way today."

Ramirez threw 95 pitches, only 52 for strikes, in his four innings before giving way to Julio Mateo to start the fifth.

"It felt like the way Ramirez pitched, he seemed to have settled down except that one inning at the end where he gave up the two-run home run to Manny," Hargrove said. "But ... he wasn't on his game. We were hoping that he would settle in, but it never happened."

Mateo pitched two scoreless innings and Reitsma got out of trouble in the seventh. The right-hander got the first two outs in the eighth before yielding the homer.

"I thought our bullpen did a good job," Hargrove said. "I thought they threw the ball well, certainly well enough to win the game."

Matsuzaka walked the first three hitters of the game before the first run scored on Raul Ibanez's fielder's choice grounder. Jose Guillen followed with a two-run double down the right-field line and then Kenji Johjima brought home Richie Sexson on an error by Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo. The final run came home on Yuniesky Betancourt's RBI single.

The Red Sox didn't take long to tie the game. In the second, Jason Varitek singled in one run, Dustin Padroia walked with the bases loaded, Lugo doubled in a pair and David Ortiz dropped a broken-bat single into short left-center to tie the game. An outstanding play by a diving Betancourt at shortstop turned what looked like an RBI single by Manny Ramirez into an inning-ending double play.

Matzusaka settled down after the shaky first and was rewarded with the lead when Ramirez hammered his fourth homer of the year with one on in the fourth. But the lead was short-lived, as the Mariners struck for two in the fifth. Guillen drove in the first with a pop-fly single and aided the second when he screened Lugo on a slow grounder, forcing the shortstop into a late and high throw and giving Betancourt his second Lugo-aided RBI single.

Ichiro Suzuki was 0-for-1 with two walks and a stolen base against fellow Japanese import Matsuzaka, leaving him 0-for-5 in two starts against his countryman.

Betancourt, who was charged with a tough error in the fifth inning, received a hug from Ortiz after tagging the Red Sox star out to complete a 4-3-6 double play that ended the sixth.

Mike Shalin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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