BOSTON -- They have turned into the walk-off specialists, these 2013 Red Sox.
This time, it was Stephen Drew who played the role of early-morning hero on Thursday at Fenway Park, belting a bases-loaded RBI single down the line in right with two outs in the bottom of the 15th inning, capping a 5-4 win over the Mariners.
It was a Major League-leading 10th walk-off win of the season for the Red Sox and vaulted them back into first place, a half-game ahead of the Rays, who lost, 7-0, to the D-backs.
"We somehow find some energy late in the game," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "It's been many different guys that have been the reason for the walk-off. I can tell you, the conversation each time we're at the plate in the extra innings, we're looking for something to draw energy from to make one last push. We were able to do that here again tonight."
The game started on the last day of July and ended on the first day of August, but it ultimately had the ending Boston wanted.
"It's just huge to get a win," said Drew, who has two walk-off hits this season. "In this tight game, it's back and forth. Their bullpen's doing well and our bullpen's doing well. We made some key plays in the 15 innings that kept us in the game. Overall it's an exciting win and hopefully we keep this thing rolling."
Dustin Pedroia started the winning rally with a walk. After he moved to second on a grounder by David Ortiz, the Mariners intentionally walked Mike Napoli. With two outs, Jonny Gomes drew a walk to load them up.
Drew then pulled a 2-1 slider by lefty Lucas Luetge just fair to end the marathon.
"I knew I hit it more hands, not pulling it, not yanking it too much," said Drew. "Kind of seeing the angle off the bat, I knew it would stay fair. I knew it was close, but I knew it would stay fair."
The Red Sox nearly ended it in the bottom of the 14th. With Brandon Snyder on third and one out, Shane Victorino hit a medium-depth fly ball to center. Snyder tagged up, but was thrown out at the plate by Michael Saunders for an inning-ending double play.
"Well, obviously we know he has a good arm," Snyder said. "We've seen him a lot, and I saw him a lot last year, too. Early in the season, I think he had a finger thing going so he wasn't throwing as well, but we knew he was coming in throwing a lot better. It's one of those things that it's kind of shallow, but in that situation you've got to go. He made a good play."
And in the top of the 15th, the Mariners had a golden opportunity, when they had two on and one out against Drake Britton.
Saunders hit a sinking liner to left that Gomes made a nice sliding catch on. Raul Ibanez didn't think it would be caught, and was doubled off second. In the rarest of plays, Gomes, after catching the ball, ran in and tagged second himself for the unassisted double play.
"I was pretty sure a ball was going to come my way with him," said Gomes. "When it got to two strikes, I thought he'd try to bloop one in. It was a fastball, and it stayed up long enough and, do or die. To be able to play left here, you definitely have to do extreme things, take extreme angles."
And then there was the extreme finish by Gomes on the play.
"To tell you the truth, myself being a fan of the game, the history of the game, a numbers guy, it definitely was on purpose," Gomes said. "I've been waiting years to do that."
Ibanez could only tip his cap.
"I just checked the outfielders after every pitch and I saw where they were playing," Ibanez said. "And based off the trajectory of Saunders' ball and the little fade I knew would be on it, I thought -- I didn't think, I was certain -- that it was going to bounce. Obviously it didn't. He made a great play."
Pedroia, who has gotten hot the last two nights after a slump, belted a two-run homer that soared over the Monster Seats and on to Lansdowne Street, giving the Red Sox a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
John Lackey was in position to get the win, giving up eight hits and three runs over seven innings, walking one and striking out six.
But Junichi Tazawa came on for the eighth and served up a game-tying solo shot to right-center by Kyle Seager.
"They came out attacking first-pitch fastballs and got one up over the plate from Seager," said Farrell. "Seager has been a nemesis for us. He's swung the bat extremely well against us. And in a one-run game, they're certainly not looking to work a count. They're aggressive. He got a pitch up, and unfortunately he hit it out of the ballpark."
Once again, the Red Sox found a way not to get deflated, making things right in the end.
Aside from Tazawa, Farrell received brilliant work from his relievers.
Koji Uehara worked two dominant innings, throwing 19 pitches, 17 for strikes. Matt Thornton pitched a clean 11th. Craig Breslow took care of the next two innings. And Britton took care of the final two frames, earning his first Major League win.
"The guys played our hearts out all game," Britton said. "It's just nice to be a part of that win."