Pineiro holds Red Sox at bay


BOSTON (AP) – Joel Pineiro escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs. Tim Wakefield couldn’t overcome two passed balls and a misplayed fly in one wild inning.

That combination gave Pineiro the edge in a pitcher’s duel Saturday when he led the Seattle Mariners to a 3-0 win over the Red Sox. It was even more impressive because Pineiro was 2-5 with a 7.71 ERA in his first eight starts against Boston.

“You can say I was due,” he said.

He almost was done in the second inning. After leaving two runners stranded in the first, he allowed a double and two walks to the first three batters in the second.

“I wouldn’t want to be on the mound” in that predicament, Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “I’d want to be somewhere in Tibet probably, but he did a good job.”

Pineiro (2-1), who went 6 1-3 innings and combined with J.J. Putz and Eddie Guardado on a five-hitter, struck out the next two batters then retired Alex Cora on a groundout.

“That was the turning point,” Pineiro said. “Then we came back the next inning and scored some runs.”

They wouldn’t have scored any in the third if Boston’s defense, outstanding so far this season, didn’t falter.

Yuniesky Betancourt led off with a double. Ichiro Suzuki then struck out but reached first, and Betancourt took third, on the first of Josh Bard’s passed balls on Wakefield’s knuckler. Suzuki then stole second, and another passed ball scored Betancourt and sent Suzuki to third.

Jose Lopez lined out to third before Raul Ibanez hit a high liner to right field. Wily Mo Pena started to run in, then the ball landed behind him for a run-scoring ground-rule double. Had Bard held the ball on Suzuki’s strikeout and Pena caught the fly, Wakefield (1-2) would have had a shutout inning.

Wakefield pitched a complete game, allowing nine hits and no walks with six strikeouts, but blamed himself for the bad inning.

“I left a ball up to Ibanez that got over Wily Mo’s head,” he said after pitching his 29th complete game. His previous one was another loss, 1-0 to the Yankees in New York last Sept. 11.

Richie Sexson followed with an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

The inning ended on a strange play when Carl Everett singled to center fielder Adam Stern. Sexson stopped at second then ran toward third when the ball got by Stern. But Stern picked it up and threw to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who fired to first baseman J.T. Snow. Everett made a wide turn and was tagged out.

“Most of the time (when) Wake goes out there, gives up three runs and throws a complete game, we are out there shaking hands and patting him on the back,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He was great.”

Bard, who had three passed balls in Wakefield’s first start and has five for the season, replaced the traded Doug Mirabelli as the knuckleballer’s personal catcher.

“It’s frustrating,” Bard said. “I’m disappointed with the way that today went, but I’m going to keep working hard and I’ll get this thing figured out.”

Mirabelli had 10 passed balls in his first season with Wakefield, then 14 in 2003 and 15 in 2004 before getting just six last season.

The Red Sox couldn’t overcome the 3-0 deficit as they continued a hitting slump after leading the majors in runs each of the last three seasons. They’ve scored four or less seven times in 11 games.

Manny Ramirez went 1-for-4 with a bloop single and two strikeouts and is in a 2-for-22 drought.

“There’s going to be a good portion this year, believe me, when the offense kicks in gear,” Francona said. “The one chance we had, we didn’t take advantage of.”

Bard did have a good at-bat, facing 12 pitches on his walk that loaded the bases in the second. But the offense failed.

“It was getting to where I was going to ask him, “What do you want?’ ” Pineiro said. “I threw him every pitch I had in my back pocket.”

Pineiro gave up five hits and two walks with five strikeouts, allowing just two hits after the second. He left with runners at first and second and one out in the seventh, and Putz retired the last two batters. Putz pitched a perfect eighth and finished with four strikeouts against his five batters.

Guardado pitched the ninth for his second save in two opportunities.

Notes: Boston RF Trot Nixon expects to return in a few days after straining his groin in last Tuesday’s home opener. … Stern, playing because Coco Crisp is on the disabled list, struck out swinging in three of his four at-bats. … C Rene Rivera made his first appearance of the season for Seattle. He started after being called up last Wednesday from Triple-A Tacoma. … Seattle’s Jeremy Reed has one hit in each of his 10 games this season.

AP-ES-04-15-06 1802EDT