BoSox Host Mariners

The Seattle Mariners own the worst record in baseball and show signs of imploding.

The Boston Red Sox have surged into the AL East lead, but thanks to the unpredictable Manny Ramirez, they may have chemistry issues of their own.

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The Mariners try to avoid their fifth consecutive loss Friday night when they open a three-game set at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, who go for their 14th straight home win one day after Ramirez's altercation with a teammate overshadowed a victory.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston -140 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 66% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston –140 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Seattle (21-39) took two out of three games from Boston (38-25) at Safeco Field from May 26-28, but that is the only series Seattle has won in its last five. The Mariners dropped the final four games of their nine-game homestand and five of six after facing the Red Sox.

Their frustration seemed to reach a boiling point Wednesday after a 5-4 loss completed a three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels - the club Seattle had expected to challenge for AL West supremacy. Team president Chuck Armstrong berated members of the coaching staff earlier in the day, and manager John McLaren ripped into his club with an expletive-laced tirade after the Mariners' fourth straight defeat.

"People want to see some results. They've had it. And rightfully so,'' said McLaren, whose team has the ninth-highest payroll in the majors but the worst record.

"Anybody that's happy in our clubhouse, there's something wrong with him. ... We bragged about how good we were. ... We need to pick it up now. I can't make it any clearer than that.''

The players, including designated hitter Jose Vidro, who went 0-for-4 Wednesday to drop his average to .225, appear to blame themselves rather than McLaren.

"The bottom line is, it's up to us to do our jobs,'' Vidro said.

Another series win over Boston doesn't appear likely. While the Red Sox are only 14-20 on the road, they improved their major league-best home record to 24-5 after completing a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay with a 7-1 victory Thursday.

Ramirez hit his 503rd career home run and drove in five runs for the Red Sox, who have won 13 consecutive games at Fenway since their last home loss - on May 1 against Toronto.

Ramirez, though, had a heated exchange with first baseman Kevin Youkilis in the dugout at the end of the fourth inning. The players had to be separated after exchanging words. Ramirez pointed at Youkilis before being escorted down the runway toward the clubhouse by trainer Paul Lessard and a few players, but manager Terry Francona attempted to downplay the incident after the emotional game, which also featured a brawl involving Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp and Rays pitcher James Shields.

"I think they were just exchanging some views on things,'' Francona said of Ramirez and Youkilis. "It was kind of a hectic night. Sometimes those things happen. It wasn't really a big deal; it won't be a big deal.''

Friday's starting pitchers - Bartolo Colon (3-0, 3.50 ERA) and Felix Hernandez (3-5, 3.29 ERA) - are a rematch of the only game the Red Sox won in Seattle last week. The teams were tied at 1 after seven innings of that May 26 contest, but Boston plated four runs off a tiring Hernandez in the eighth and held on for a 5-3 victory.

"With him you're just trying to get a pitch out over the plate to hit,'' Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, whose ground-rule double broke the tie, said of Hernandez. "You don't get many so you've got to make sure you hit them.''

Hernandez bounced back from the loss in his outing Saturday, limiting Detroit to two hits while striking out seven and not walking a batter in seven innings of Seattle's 5-0 victory. The Mariners have not won since.

Colon, meanwhile, gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings at Baltimore on Sunday, but received generous support and won 9-4 - his third victory in as many starts for Boston. The Red Sox have scored at least five runs for the right-hander in each of his outings.

Colon is 13-10 with a 4.27 ERA in 27 career starts versus the Mariners.

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