SEATTLE – For the second time in three nights, Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia stood waiting for a throw from right field hoping it would get to the plate in time.
So far in Seattle, the Red Sox are 0 for 2 when it comes to game-deciding plays at the plate.
"That's two tough ones the last couple of days," Boston right fielder Cody Ross said.
Chone Figgins' sacrifice fly in the 11th inning was deep enough to allow Dustin Ackley to beat Ross' throw to the plate and the Mariners beat the Red Sox 3-2 on Saturday night.
With the Red Sox's infield playing in and expecting a possible squeeze bunt from Figgins, Seattle manager Eric Wedge let his little-used utility player hit. Figgins came through with a line drive off Boston closer Alfredo Aceves (0-5) that Ross caught cleanly. He made a strong throw, but the ball bounced before getting to the plate and Saltalamacchia could not pick it cleanly.
It was eerily familiar to the opener of the four-game series when John Jaso lined a single to right field in the ninth inning of a scoreless tie. Ross made another strong throw that night, but Saltalamacchia couldn't make a clean pick-and-tag on Casper Wells that night either.
"It was a little tougher. The ball had a little topspin so Cody had to run in on it and catch it lower than usual and it short-hopped me a little," Saltalamacchia said. "But it was one of those plays, kind of do-or-die on both sides of it, but a lot different than the night before."
It was the seventh career game-ending RBI for Figgins and the first on a sacrifice fly.
Shawn Kelley (2-2) pitched the 11th for the victory. But the bigger performance was Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen working two scoreless innings, and collectively the Mariners' bullpen that allowed just two runs in 8 1/3 innings of relief after starter Erasmo Ramirez left with pain in his right elbow. Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez, Wilhelmsen and Kelley all had scoreless stints of at least one inning.
"We used all but one guy down in our bullpen and kept them in tow and really that was the story of the ballgame," Wedge said.
Jaso snapped a scoreless tie with a two-run double off Boston starter Josh Beckett in the sixth inning for Seattle. The Red Sox tied the game in the seventh thanks to an infield groundout from Ryan Kalish that scored Adrian Gonzalez from third and a passed ball by Olivo that rolled to the backstop and allowed Will Middlebrooks to score the tying run.
Olvio's mistake was forgotten when he dropped a two-strike single into right field that allowed Ackley to reach third base in the 11th.
But Boston had its chances and was just 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. There was no bigger missed chance for Boston than the 10th inning. Dustin Pedroia led off with a single after going hitless in his previous 15 at-bats. David Ortiz followed with sharp base-hit back up the middle and quickly the Red Sox were threatening. Wilhelmsen got ahead of Saltalamacchia 0-2 and finally struck him out on a 2-2 breaking ball. Gonzalez then hit a grounder that bounced off the backside of the mound and handcuffed Ackley and kept the Mariners from turning an inning-ending double play. But Wilhelmsen got a weak grounder from Middlebrooks and the go-ahead run was left at third base.
"We had some opportunities to get some hits with runners in scoring position, but it's just one of those nights where we couldn't find the hole and didn't come up with the big one," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
Beckett made his first start since June 11 and was nearly perfect into the fifth inning when Olivo got Seattle's first hit with a broken bat single over the infield. Beckett ran into trouble in the sixth when a miscommunication between left fielder Daniel Nava and shortstop Mike Aviles allowed Kyle Seager's popup to fall for a hit. That loaded the bases for Jaso, who lined a double off the base of the wall.
Beckett avoided further damage in the inning and gave up just four hits and struck out four in six innings.
"It's good to have him back; threw strikes, was aggressive and had a pretty good curveball tonight," Valentine said.
Ramirez left in the third inning with an undisclosed injury after retiring the first eight batters and Wedge said after the game he was taken for an MRI on his elbow. With two outs in the inning, Ramirez threw a first-pitch strike to Aviles. After throwing the pitch, Ramirez signaled for Olivo, who then signaled to the dugout for the trainer. Ramirez had retired the first eight batters before leaving.
Notes: Boston designated OF Darnell McDonald for assignment Saturday, clearing the needed roster spot for Beckett to return from the disabled list. McDonald played in 38 games this season. ... Seattle entered the night hitting .197 at home this season, the worst home batting average in baseball.