BOSTON — It was a memorable victory for the Mariners on Sunday for a myriad of reasons.
It marked the team’s 71st win of the season, equaling the total from all of last season — an accomplishment, to be sure, with 33 games left to play.
It also meant the Mariners maintained their one-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the wild card race.
But the 8-6 win over the Red Sox accomplished something that no other team had done in the existence of the Seattle franchise — a three-game sweep at Fenway Park.
The Mariners had a few two-game series sweeps in Boston, but in 38 seasons had never come to Fenway and taken all three or four games of a series.
And really Seattle probably had little business winning Sunday’s game. The Mariners squandered a 3-0 first-inning lead, thanks to the worst outing of Hisashi Iwakuma’s big league career. Their best player — Robinson Cano — left the game in the bottom of the third inning because of dizziness.
Yet they still found a way to prevail, showing deficits are made to be overcome.
For the third consecutive game the Mariners’ offense rallied, this time from a two-run hole, and the Mariners’ bullpen provided stellar relief work to secure the win.
Down 5-3, Seattle cut the lead to 5-4 on a sacrifice fly from Chris Denorfia in the fourth inning and took a 6-5 lead in the fifth on an RBI triple from Dustin Ackley and a sac fly from Brad Miller, Cano’s replacement.
The Mariners tacked on needed runs in the eighth on an RBI single from Seager and a run in the ninth on an RBI double from Miller.
The extra run gave Fernando Rodney some wiggle room in the ninth. He gave up a single and walked two batters to load the bases with two outs before striking out Kelly Johnson for his 39th save.
Iwakuma just never looked comfortable against a Red Sox team that has had plenty of success against him in the past.
After giving up a lead-off single to Brock Holt to start the game, it looked as though he might have a smooth inning, getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out to short and striking out David Ortiz.
But that third out wouldn’t come for a while.
Yoenis Cespedes singled to left to score Holt. Iwakuma then hit Mike Napoli and Allen Craig with pitches — his first two of the season. Will Middlebrooks, who came into the game sporting an anemic .190 batting average, singled home two more runs to tie the game at 3-3.
The ordeal took 39 pitches for Iwakuma, the most in his career. The previous high had been 28 pitches in an inning, which also came against the Red Sox on June 25. In that game, he lasted just four innings and gave up five runs on eight hits in his shortest outing of the season.
Well, it was the shortest until Sunday.
Iwakuma never got out of the third. He walked Ortiz to start the third, then gave up a double to Cespedes. After a ground ball scored a run to give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead, Iwakuma gave up back-to-back singles to Craig and Middlebrooks to let another run come across.
Dominic Leone came in and cleaned up Iwakuma’s mess, getting the final two outs of the inning.