SEATTLE -- The search for No. 200 will go on for Tim Wakefield.
Whether it has been errors in the field, a shaky bullpen or simply bad luck, the elusive 200th win continues to evade the 45-year-old veteran. Sunday was no different.
Much like Josh Beckett on Saturday, Wakefield had one bad -- and controversial -- inning that put the Red Sox in too deep a hole to climb out of, as the Mariners took the series with a 5-3 victory in front of 43,777 at Safeco Field.
With the Yankees-Rays finale rained out in New York, Boston's American East lead decreased to just a half-game.
It's not like Wakefield hasn't pitched well. After beating Seattle on July 24 for win No. 199, the knuckleballer had put up three quality stars but went just 0-1 during that stretch.
And on Sunday, it was more of the same quality pitching without the "W." He gave up five runs in eight innings for his first complete game this season and was happy with how he pitched.
"I felt great," the righty said. "Obviously, the results weren't what I wanted them to be, but I was able to go eight."
Is it the chase for No. 200 that's kept him from winning in the past three weeks?
"No. I don't care about it," said Wakefield, who added that he's been less concerned about the milestone with each passing start. "I'm just trying to pitch quality starts and quality innings to try to get us wins, because it's getting to that time of the year when it's time to win games. It's not weighing heavily on my mind where I feel like I'm pressing."
Thanks in large part to a debatable call that nearly everybody in the Boston clubhouse thought was wrong, Wakefield (6-5) will have to wait at least another start before he can become the 108th pitcher in Major League history to record 200 victories.
Seattle's Casper Wells led off the third inning with a walk and then stole second. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had his throw skid into center field and Wells took third on the error. Minutes later, Jack Wilson dribbled an infield single to Jed Lowrie at short, scoring Wells and giving Seattle an early 1-0 lead.
Then things got a bit complicated. Kyle Seager singled to right field and Ichiro Suzuki came to the plate with runners on first and second. He slapped a potential double-play ball to Lowrie, but second-base umpire Ed Hickox ruled that Lowrie's foot missed the tag at second base when the shortstop -- who was given an error on the play -- tried to turn two.
The call prompted skipper Terry Francona, who was ejected during Saturday's 5-4 loss for arguing, to come out of the dugout for an explanation, but the call stood.
"I really thought he grazed the bag," Francona said. "I think you got to be pretty sure on that one if you're going to make a call like that. After looking at the replay, I don't know how he can be sure."
Saltalamacchia said the out was "obvious," and that "everybody saw it." Lowrie agreed.
"After watching some of the replays and just knowing that I touched the base, it's just ... I don't know," the shortstop said. "It's a bad situation that probably cost a couple runs.
" ... When you have the ball and you touch the base, he's out. I've never had that called on me. It's the same thing I do every single time. I kick the back corner of the base and step out of the way of the runner. I don't know what to say."
The call proved costly. With the bases loaded and nobody out -- instead of runners at the corners with one out -- Wilson scored on a Franklin Gutierrez sac fly, and two batters later, Mike Carp extended his hitting streak to 14 with a single to right field that scored Seager and made it 3-0 Mariners.
"It would have given us an out, so it changed the momentum of the inning," Lowrie said. "There's no way to say what was going to happen after that if we were to get that out, but it definitely changes the momentum of the inning. They get that safe call there and have nobody out, bases loaded."
Wakefield would go on to give up one run in the fifth and sixth innings, but his offense did not provide much help. While Seattle again came out aggressive from the plate Sunday -- they pummeled Beckett for five runs in Saturday's first inning -- Boston could not figure out Seattle starter Charlie Furbush for the second straight time.
Furbush, who pitched five innings of two-hit ball against the Sox in May when he pitched for Detroit, flustered the Boston bats with good off-speed pitches and had steady command in seven innings of four-hit ball. The Portland, Maine, native gave up just one run and improved to 3-4, picking up his second win in a Mariners uniform.
"I was a big-time Red Sox fan growing up," Furbush said. "I don't really think about that stuff, but it was pretty cool for the people back home who have been following me all along. To see me pitch against my favorite team growing up was pretty cool."
Kevin Youkilis, who played for the first time in three games, made it interesting when he belted a two-run homer to left field off reliever Jeff Gray in the eighth, but it was too little, too late for the Sox.
The Mariners (52-67) had the runs in the fifth and sixth innings for insurance, and it was all they needed against the Red Sox (73-46), who lost their first series since dropping two of three to Philadelphia in late June.
Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.