THE STORY: Pitching hasn't been the issue for the slumping Seattle Mariners, who have lost 13 in a row. Hitting, that's another story. Seattle is batting .207 in July and it doesn't look to get any easier Saturday night when the visiting Mariners face the Boston Red Sox Josh Beckett in the second game of a three-game set. Beckett is second in the American League in ERA and brings a microscopic 1.66 ERA at home into the game.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Blake Beavan (1-1, 2.70 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Josh Beckett (8-3, 2.12).
Beavan has never faced Boston. He has made three appearances in the majors and notched three quality starts. The righthander beat the Padres 3-1 in his debut and lost a tough 3-1 decision against Texas in his latest outing. Beavan is a 6-foot-7, first-round pick out of the University of Texas who was summoned after Erik Bedard went on the disabled list. Beavan, who was acquired in the Cliff Lee deal, is a control pitcher.
Beckett was brilliant in his last start but did not figure in the decision. He tossed eight one-hit innings as Boston pulled out a marathon 1-0 win in 16 innings against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Surprisingly, Beckett has not gotten much run support from Boston's offensive powerhouse or he would be a leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award. He is 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA in his career against the Mariners.
ABOUT THE RED SOX (60-37) Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-3 on Friday night to extend his hitting streak to 19 games. He has reached base in 31 consecutive games and is hitting .390 during the streak. The Red Sox are on a major roll. They lead the AL East by two games over the New York Yankees and have won 11 of their last 13 games. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save Friday. He has blown only one save this season. Jacoby Ellsbury hit another homer Friday night to give him three in his last two games and a career-high 16 for the season. Boston has won seven straight at home.
ABOUT THE MARINERS (43-56) Seattle is one loss away from tying the franchise record of 14 consecutive losses which came in 1992. When the losing streak began, the Mariners were only a half-game out of first place in the AL West. They are 13 1/2 games out after Felix Hernandez took the loss Friday. Hernandez is the last pitcher to win a game for Seattle - on July 5. Seattle has won three of its last five games at Boston.
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