Sox keep up with A's in wild-card race

BOSTON (AP) -- The only thing that has been able to stop Derek Lowe
lately is a blister on his pitching thumb.

The Red Sox right-hander pitched 7 1/3 strong innings Sunday
night and David Ortiz hit a three-run homer to lead Boston to a
6-1 victory over Seattle -- the fifth consecutive loss for the AL
West-leading Mariners.

Lowe has allowed a total of three runs in his last three starts,
but Boston lost his last game when he left a two-hit shutout after
six innings because his thumb blistered up.

"I'm not the only person in the locker room who's got something
wrong," Lowe said after Boston beat Seattle for the third
consecutive game. "You've got to get over it because the team
needs you to be healthy."

The Red Sox have won four in a row overall since falling a
season-high 7 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. Boston is
five games behind New York in the division and is tied with Oakland for the lead in the wild-card race.

Seattle has watched its lead fall to one game over the Athletics
in the AL West. The Mariners, looking to avoid a sweep Monday, will
have to face Boston ace Pedro Martinez, who was moved up a day in
the rotation after missing his previous start with a sore throat
and fever.

"They're playing well. We're not playing our best," Mariners
manager Bob Melvin said. "But it'll turn."

Lowe (13-6) said he soaked his thumb in wax between starts and
didn't pitch off a mound since his last outing to give the thumb
his chance to heal. He allowed one run on five hits and five walks,
striking out four before leaving after giving up back-to-back walks
with one out in the eighth.

"He has turned the corner from earlier in the season," Boston
manager Grady Little said. "Hopefully he can keep it going the
rest of the way."

Ryan Franklin (9-11) allowed six runs on 11 hits and four walks,
striking out one in six innings. John Olerud reached base three
times, and John Mabry doubled and scored Seattle's only run in the
sixth on Dan Wilson's double-play ball.

Nomar Garciaparra, whose fiancee, Mia Hamm, helped the Washington
Freedom win the WUSA championship earlier in the day, singled three times for Boston.

The Red Sox scored one run in the third on Kevin Millar's RBI
groundout and added five more in the fourth.

Bill Mueller led off with a double and, one out later, Johnny Damon, Todd Walker and Garciaparra all singled. Manny Ramirez hit a
410-foot out to center field, but Ortiz followed with one that was
plenty long enough to clear the wall.

Game notes
Mariners DH Edgar Martinez was out of the lineup with a
sore toe on his left foot, which he injured when it was hit with a
foul ball. X-rays were negative, and he is day-to-day. ... Seattle
has posted a winning record at Fenway Park just once in the last 17
years. ... Seattle C Dan Wilson struck out in the third -- his first
strikeout in his last 35 plate appearances. It had been the longest
such streak in the majors. ... Ortiz needs one more homer to match
a career high of 20. ... Millar has three stolen bases. He had one
in his career before coming to Boston. ... The crowd of 34,344 was
the 43rd sellout of the season, the 33rd in a row.