Ichiro homered to start the game and threw out a runner at home plate, boosting the Mariners to a 5-4 win over the Red Sox at Safeco Field.
By the time Ichiro settled under Dustin Pedroia's flyball to right field in the fourth inning, anticipation built. The inning had become dicey for Mariners starter Felix Hernandez. A leadoff walk to Jacob Ellsbury was followed by a high-bouncing single for Carl Crawford. The Red Sox had runners on second and third following Adrian Gonzalez's grounder to first.
That brought up Pedroia. Ichiro sidled in and to his left under the fly. The speedy Ellsbury crouched while touching third base and came crashing home a few seconds later, but Ichiro's one-hop throw beat him to the plate. Ellsbury's left knee slammed into Mariners catcher Josh Bard, who narrowly held onto the ball with his bare hand.
"Just as long as I had a good grip on the ball, I knew I could get this guy out because it wasn't a long distance from where I was," Ichiro said through an interpreter.
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Ellsbury was initially called safe, and Hernandez (11-10) immediately began to argue. Mariners manager Eric Wedge came out to check on Bard and let home plate umpire Mark Ripperger what he thought of the call. The umpires huddled.
Eventually, Ellsbury was ruled out. Then Boston manager Terry Francona was thrown out for arguing.
"The throw had to be on the money," Ellsbury said. "But with Ichiro's history, there's a good chance of it."
Bard was deflective of any praise.
"You guys [the media] need to stop making a big deal out of this," Bard said. "Ichi made a great throw. It's my job to catch the ball and tag the guy. That's all I did. So, next question."
The run came off the board and Hernandez kept cruising until the sixth. That's when Ellsbury hit a two-run homer, as did Pedroia. Hernandez, who had allowed no more than five hits in each of his last three starts, allowed six hits in the sixth inning Saturday, his lead down to 5-4.
"Make good pitches but give up two homers," Hernandez said. "This is baseball. Crazy."
Jamey Wright relieved Hernandez and survived a titanic foul ball by David Ortiz. The Boston designated hitter's near home run was just a few feet foul in the eighht inning. Bard continued his strong defensive night by throwing out pinch-runner Darnell McDonald trying to steal to end the eighth.
Ichiro's leadoff homer in the first was followed by a Franklin Gutierrez single, Dustin Ackley double and Mike Carp two-run single. New designated hitter Wily Mo Pena flied out to center before left fielder Casper Wells hit a two-run homer, his sixth home run of the season, to left-center.
The five-run first inning allowed by Beckett to the majors' worst offense was stunning. It jacked Beckett's pristine 2.17 ERA to 2.48 in a matter of 34 pitches.
For Ichiro, the first-pitch homer was his second to start a game this season and his 34th overall.
"Well, I'm not out there to go for a home run," Ichiro said. "Just to square up the ball is all I have in mind. Fortunate."
But that was all Beckett allowed. He then retired 10 consecutive hitters before wiggling out of trouble in the fifth. It was just the fourth time this season Beckett (9-5) has thrown five innings or less.
- Seattle put Justin Smoak on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken nose, a day after a bad-hop grounder hit him in the face. Smoak also has a fracture under his eye. He was seeking a second opinion, and the timeline for his return is unknown.
- Members of both teams took a long look at new Mariner DH Wily Mo Pena take batting practice. He didn't disappoint, hitting several home runs, including one that went to the top of the upper deck in left-center field.
- Seattle designated left-hander Luke French for assignment.
- Tim Wakefield will be going for win No. 200 Sunday. He beat the Mariners four starts ago for win No. 199.
- Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis was out for the second consecutive day because of back soreness.