|Mariners try to win series vs. Red Sox|
BOSTON -- Their five-game losing streak over, the Seattle Mariners send seven-game winner Marco Gonzales to the mound against Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the deciding game of a three-game series at Fenway Park Sunday.
The Mariners handed Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez only his second loss in 11 decisions with Saturday night's 7-2 victory and now ask Gonzales to shake off his last start and butt heads with Sale in the finale.
After allowing just six runs in 38 1/3 innings in his previous six starts, Gonzales yielded six and was reached for three home runs in losing to the New York Yankees in the Bronx Tuesday night.
Sale has struck out 30 in 21 innings over his last three starts but is just 1-1 over that span. His team is just 8-8 in his 16 starts and he is 6-4 with a 2.74 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 102 innings in 2018.
The skinny left-hander is 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 10 games, eight starts, lifetime against the Mariners.
Gonzales will face the Red Sox for the first time. Boston is just 9-9 in games started by lefties this season.
Mike Leake pitched eight shutout innings to avenge last Sunday's loss to the Red Sox and defeat Boston for the first time in his career. Closer Edwin Diaz, who hadn't pitched in a week, worked a shaky ninth and allowed two runs, but that couldn't taint the evening for the visitors, who took a 14-10 loss in the opener Friday.
"Unbelievable and really big for our ballclub for him to step up tonight," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "Exactly what we needed for someone to shut it down and steady it."
Said Leake: "When you have a five-game losing streak, yeah, you want to end it."
The Red Sox, who remained a game behind the losing New York Yankees atop the American League East, fell to 13-2 in Rodriguez's 5 starts.
While Mookie Betts (illness) was out of the Boston lineup, both teams were without their shortstops Saturday night.
Seattle's Jean Segura missed his third straight game with an arm infection, had it drained by a Boston doctor Friday and hopes to play Sunday.
"It was bad," Segura said before Saturday's game. "It was hurting me, especially when I was swinging. I couldn't extend my arm. It doesn't feel right when you swing and feel pinching, like somebody is trying to grab your bat. As a player, you don't want that feeling.
"If it feels good, I'll play. But you can't play around with an infection. I have to wait til it recovers."
Boston's Xander Bogaerts, suffered a sprained left index finger diving into second base Friday night and sat out Saturday. He was due for a game off Saturday, anyway, and the hope and Betts will both play Sunday.
"How's Xander? He's day to day," manager Alex Cora said. "We'll see. (We'll) probably stay away from him tomorrow. We were looking for an off-day, and it just came up now. Hopefully he'll be ready to Sunday."
After the game, Cora said he hoped both would be ready to play
"They're going to show up early tomorrow, see where they at," Cora said. "So, we'll go from there."
The Mariners, 3-4 against Boston in the last 10 days, remained three games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West.
The current Seattle roster is hitting a combined .200 against Sale.
Nelson Cruz is 8-for-26 (.308) with two homers and four RBIs against Sale, but Mike Zunino is 0-for-7. Kyle Seager is 1-for-16 (.063), Ryon Healy and Guillermo Heredia both 1-for-6 (.167) and Andrew Romine 3-for-14 (.214).
Triston Casas, the Red Sox top pick in the recent draft, took batting practice in the same group of J.D. Martinez before Saturday night's game.