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Mariners 5, Red Sox 4

Sox are bunch of lost souls

Jenks can’t protect lead as Mariners win opener

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By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 30, 2011

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Beyond their love of tattoos and baseball, Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks would not seem to have much in common.

But as the first month of the Red Sox season comes to a close, both have to be wondering how something that seemed to make so much sense when they were free agents has turned out so wrong.

With Crawford parked on the bench contemplating his inexplicable slump, Jenks was summoned from the bullpen to protect a one-run lead against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park last night.

The Sox were undefeated in nine previous games when they led after the sixth inning. Manager Terry Francona had Jenks, Daniel Bard, and Jonathan Papelbon lined up to secure the win.

But like other well-designed plans this season, it didn’t work out that way. Jenks was rocked again, giving up two runs that led to a 5-4 loss before a crowd of 37,845 that booed him off the field.

“I know it’s going to take some work to get these fans back on my side. But once I turn this around, I’ll get them back,’’ Jenks said.

Jenks was nearly perfect in his first four appearances, throwing four shutout innings without allowing a hit. But his last six games have resulted in eight earned runs on 12 hits and four walks over just 4 1/3 innings. Jenks is 1-2 with an 8.64 earned run average.

Seattle, which has the lowest batting average in the American League, had no trouble with Jenks. Ichiro Suzuki led off with a single and went to third on a double by Chone Figgins.

Jenks struck out Milton Bradley. Hoping to limit the damage, the Sox played the infield back and Miguel Olivo grounded to second base. A run scored, but Jenks had two outs.

Justin Smoak walked to extend the inning before Jack Cust hammered an RBI double off the wall in left.

All three hits off Jenks came off fastballs, two at 95 miles per hour and the other at 94.

“I think it’s location. His stuff is good. He’s got all the pitches,’’ Francona said. “He just needs to throw to his spots a little bit better.’’

Jenks said he put his pitches where he wanted to.

“I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m going out there and I feel terrific,’’ he said. “All my stuff is there, just the results aren’t. I don’t know what to make of it.’’

Jason Varitek called Jenks the victim of “weird events.’’

“He’s not getting away with very many mistakes,’’ the catcher said. “He’s got good stuff. He’s going to be just fine.’’

Jenks, the former White Sox closer, signed a two-year, $12 million deal to serve as one of Papelbon’s set-up men. He acknowledged the adrenaline is not the same, but not enough to explain his poor results.

Jenks has a 6.35 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP since the All-Star break last season.

“I don’t know where I’m at right now. Something’s off. I’ve got to fix it and fix it now,’’ he said.

That sounds like a good team motto. The Sox have dropped three of their last four and at 11-14 have fallen back into last place in the AL East. They will be under .500 for the second straight April, having finished the month 11-12 last year.

Two solo home runs by Mike Cameron and RBI singles by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz gave the Sox a 4-2 lead after four innings. Daisuke Matsuzaka, while not as sharp as i his two previous starts, had allowed one earned run on two hits to that point.

When Suzuki led off the fifth inning with a single, Francona and two athletic trainers hurried to the mound. Matsuzaka was taken out because of a “tight’’ elbow.

The initial examination suggested Matsuzaka would be able to make his next start. Further tests are scheduled for today.

Matt Albers relieved Matsuzaka and allowed a single by Figgins. Bradley followed with a grounder to first base. Adrian Gonzalez fired to second for one out but Albers could not handle the low return throw from shortstop Jed Lowrie. A run scored on the pitcher’s error.

“I should have made the play, the throw was there,’’ Albers said.

Jason Vargas (1-2) and two relievers retired the final 13 Sox in order. The Sox did not have a hit after the fourth inning. Vargas allowed four runs on eight hits and two walks over seven innings.

The Sox are 1-5 in games decided by one run this season and 23-31 over the last two seasons.

The meltdown spoiled a memorable night for Cameron, who wrapped a home run around the Pesky Pole in the second inning and blasted another over the wall in the fourth. He had not homered since July 18.

“We let this one slip away,’’ Cameron said. “It’s hard to enjoy it.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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