BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox trailed by five runs when Daniel Nava walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, and the hopes of a second consecutive walkoff win were too remote to consider.
"I don't think anybody saw that coming," Nava said, describing the "tempered excitement" in the dugout as the bases filled and emptied during a six-run ninth inning that gave Boston an 8-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night. "You could see it happening, but it was still too far off."
By the time the Red Sox batted around the order, and Nava came up again, the score was tied, the bases were loaded and there was still only one out. Nava lined a long single over the center fielder to bring the Boston players out of the dugout for the increasingly familiar celebration.
One night after winning in 15 innings for their major league-leading 10th walkoff victory, the Red Sox did it again to sweep Seattle and open a one-game lead in the AL East over the idle Tampa Bay Rays.
"We don't quit. Ever," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We truly believe we have a chance to do something special on a given night or given year. And that happens to be this year."
Henry Blanco hit a grand slam, and Felix Hernandez allowed six hits before leaving after seven innings with a 7-1 lead.
Hernandez seemed to be cruising to his seventh consecutive victory, but the Red Sox scored one in the eighth against Charlie Furbush and then cut it to 7-3 against former Tucson High pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth. Perez (2-3) came on with the bases loaded and nobody out, giving up Shane Victorino's two-run single and an RBI base hit to Dustin Pedroia that made it 7-6.
David Ortiz struck out, then Jonny Gomes singled off Yoervis Medina to tie it. Stephen Drew, who provided the decisive hit on Wednesday night, walked to load the bases before Nava hit a ball off the garage door in center field as the Red Sox celebrated.