Schilling continues to mow ’em down

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BOSTON (AP) – Curt Schilling showed a rain-soaked home crowd and the Seattle Mariners that he’s back.

Pitching at home for the first time this season, Boston’s ace allowed one run and three hits in eight innings in a 2-1 victory Friday night. Schilling has won his first three starts for the first time since 2002, showing once again that the right ankle that bothered him the last two years is strong.

Schilling (3-0) needs just one more win to match the total he had in 11 starts last year when that injured ankle kept him on the disabled list for 76 days.

On Friday, his ERA dropped from 1.93 to 1.64 as he struck out seven and didn’t allow a walk.

Schilling got all the support he needed from an unlikely source. Alex Gonzalez, signed as a free agent for his fielding prowess at shortstop and not his hitting ability, drove in both runs with a double in the fourth and went 3-for-4 with two doubles off Jamie Moyer (0-2).

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his fifth save in five opportunities as Boston ended a two-game slide after a five-game winning streak.

Moyer threw 51 pitches in the first two innings and left after six. He escaped jams in the first, when the Red Sox stranded two runners, and in the second, when they left the bases loaded. His record dropped to 0-5 in his last seven starts against Boston.

Schilling pitched seven innings in each of his first two starts, allowing two runs on five hits at Texas and one run on three hits at Baltimore.

Schilling faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings, allowing only a single in the third to Kenji Johjima, who was erased on a double play. Schilling even made an outstanding play himself when he barehanded Ichiro Suzuki’s one-hopper up the middle and threw out him in the fourth.

Richie Sexson got Seattle’s second hit, a leadoff double in the fifth, and scored on Carl Everett’s one-out groundout.

Jeremy Reed also hit a leadoff double in the sixth and took third on a groundout by Yuniesky Betancourt. Schilling got out of the jam by striking out the next two batters, then retired the side in order in the seventh.

He finished his outing with another perfect inning – getting Everett on a flyout, Johjima on a strikeout and Reed on a groundout in the eighth.

Notes: Boston is 3-0 when it scores three runs or less after going 3-22 in such games last season. … Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3 to extend his slump to 1-for-18. … The last four batters in Boston’s lineup went 8-for-16. … Seattle’s Rafael Soriano entered the game with runners at first and second and one out in the seventh and needed one pitch to retire the side on Mike Lowell’s double play grounder.

AP-ES-04-14-06 2159EDT

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