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MARINERS 9, RED SOX 4

Seattle coasts by Sox

Last stop on road trip begins with blowout

SEATTLE -- The sun refused to go down on Julian Tavarez, but that's only because at this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, the sun tends to linger deep into the evening.

The sun could have shone until midnight and it still would have looked like darkness to Julio Lugo, who with his pen flashlight of a bat sees no end to what is becoming an epic slump.

And when night looks like day and time is passing so slowly that you can't tell the difference anymore, then maybe it's best to start thinking about coming home. That sentiment surely occurred to at least some of those wearing "Boston" on the front of their jerseys, after they fell, 9-4, to the Mariners, their opponent for the last three games of this three-city, nine-game, 10-day, 7,611-mile excursion.

When night finally did fall, it did so heavily on the head of Mike Timlin, the 41-year-old reliever who was flattened by the shards of a broken bat that he deflected with his glove in the seventh inning. Timlin dusted himself off, then promptly gave up home runs on his next two pitches, to Kenji Johjima and Adrian Beltre.

This was the sixth straight time the Sox have lost at Safeco Field, their longest road losing streak in Seattle, even including the little-mourned days of the Kingdome.

The game ended with Mike Lowell flipping his bat after being called out on strikes by plate umpire Jim Reynolds, the player and arbiter exchanging a few words before Reynolds pointed at Lowell, which may mean a fine is forthcoming.

Tavarez, who raised suspicions that he may have aggravated a balky hamstring that has bothered him the last couple of weeks, was unable to last through a fifth inning he made more problematic with a wild throw on Yuniesky Betancourt's sacrifice bunt.

"Lowell was calling him off it all the way," manager Terry Francona said. "He grabbed at it, and I think he got it with a full hand. That was a tough play for him right there."

Tavarez said he heard Lowell, but decided he had a better chance to make the play.

Tavarez, who had gone unbeaten in his previous seven starts, was charged with six runs (three earned) in 4 1/3 innings, his shortest outing since he went four against the Rangers in his first start, April 7 in Texas.

"I didn't do anything different today," Tavarez said. "I just got behind a little behind in the count. I don't get the ground ball, double play. I don't feel bad about today. I just didn't get any breaks."

Kyle Snyder, who inherited a bases-loaded mess from Tavarez, did not lighten his load, walking in two runs as the Mariners sent 11 men to the plate and scored five times in the inning, seizing a 6-2 lead in a game in which they trailed, 2-1.

The Sox hinted that they might yet engage the Mariners in a competitive fashion when the first two batters of the sixth reached base, Lowell when he sharply lined a single to left and Jason Varitek when he was hit by a pitch. But Coco Crisp flied to center, Lugo lined to right, and J.D. Drew popped to second while the runners remained idle.

For Lugo, the failures at the plate are mounting at a truly monumental rate. The shortstop is now hitless in 29 at-bats going back to a single in the fourth inning on June 14. That was in Boston, 11 days and four series ago. His batting average is .191. That's the lowest of any major league qualifier, and the lowest point Lugo's average has ever been this deep into a season (the previous worst was .196 on May 24, 2003).

Lugo was supposed to drop a sacrifice bunt down on his first at-bat against Mariners starter Jeff Weaver, but bunted the ball right back to him. It didn't turn out bad for the Sox, as Weaver threw the ball into center field, allowing the runners to scoot to second and third. They both scored when Drew's ground ball evaded Jose Lopez's backhand attempt for a two-run single.

Lugo came to bat again in the fourth after a single by Crisp, and had a chance to knock in a run when Crisp stole second. Lugo fouled out to third. Drew walked to keep the inning alive but Weaver escaped when Dustin Pedroia lined to center.

It probably will be of little comfort to Lugo, but he still has a long way before he challenges the worst two Sox O-fers of the last 50 years. Luis Aparicio, the Hall of Fame shortstop, went 0 for 44 from May 20-31, 1971, while Tim Naehring, another shortstop, went 0 for 39 over a month's span in 1991, from April 13 to May 14.

The pitching matchup was titled heavily in the Sox' favor. In Weaver, they were facing a pitcher they had abused for seven runs in two innings in the Fenway Park home opener. Weaver would lose his first six decisions before going on the disabled list with what was described as shoulder tendinitis. He has pitched better since coming off the DL, with a complete-game, four-hit shutout for his first win of the season last week against the Pirates.

But the Sox left the bases loaded in the third, left two on in the fourth, and left two more on in the sixth.

The Mariners scored their first run off Tavarez in the second when Richie Sexson doubled, was singled to third, and scored on a double play ball.

Beltre began the Seattle rally in the fifth with a double. Betancourt reached when Tavarez threw away his bunt, Pedroia temporarily saving a run when he backed up first. Willie Bloomquist singled under Tavarez's glove for the tying run, Ichiro Suzuki walked, and Jose Lopez singled through the left side for two more runs.

Kevin Youkilis made a terrific play on Jose Vidro's bunt to force Ichiro at third, but when Sexson dribbled a broken-bat single to the bag at third, Francona lifted Tavarez. Snyder got one out on a pop fly, then walked Johjima and Beltre to force in two more runs.

Gordon Edes can be reached at edes@globe.com.

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