SEATTLE -- The controversial play at the plate during the fourth inning of Boston's 5-4 loss to Seattle on Saturday maybe should have never happened.
Just one play before Jacoby Ellsbury was gunned down at the plate by an Ichiro Suzuki laser beam from right field --- preventing what turned into the decisive run --- the Red Sox center fielder had what seemed to be a good chance to score.
With Ellsbury at third and no out, Adrian Gonzalez slapped a hard grounder to Seattle first baseman Mike Carp, who made a nice play in the dirt and tossed the ball to pitcher Felix Hernandez, who covered first.
All the while, Ellsbury remained at third.
"Actually, yeah, I was surprised," Hernandez said. "I was like, 'Wow, he's still on third.'"
Ellsbury, who hit his 20th home run of the season Saturday to become the fourth member of the 20-20 club (homers and steals) in the Majors this season, said that with the Red Sox down, 5-0, the biggest thing to remember was that there were no outs.
"Could I have scored? You know, in that situation -- runner on third, no outs -- even if they get the out at first, you still have two more opportunities to drive in that run," Ellsbury said. "You either want to see it through or be 100 percent sure that you can get there.
"It was a chopper. I broke hard, but once I saw him coming in, he either has a play at the plate for me or, which he did, he went to first. We elected to stay at third and have helpfully two more shots at it."
Boston did indeed have another shot at scoring, but Ichiro's throw and catcher Josh Bard's ability to hold on to the ball during the collision at the plate -- combined with the umpires' call reversal -- kept the Red Sox off the board and sent manager Terry Francona to the clubhouse after arguing.
Youkilis returns, reclaims spot at cleanup
SEATTLE -- Manager Terry Francona didn't have much to say prior to Boston's final tilt of the six-game road swing, but he did make some changes in the lineup with the return of third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
After missing the last two games with a sore back, Youkilis was back in the lineup on Sunday against the Mariners, batting fourth and playing third base.
Youkilis, who wouldn't say much about his back other than the fact that it was feeling better, is 1-for-12 in his past three games. Mike Aviles started in place of Youkilis on both Friday and Saturday, going a combined 3-for-6.
Youkilis' return resulted in some lineup shuffling. Dustin Pedroia moved back into the two-hole after hitting in cleanup for the past two days. He has hit safely in 47 of his last 52 games.
The bottom of the lineup got a makeover as well. On Saturday, Aviles, Jason Varitek and Marco Scutaro rounded out the bottom of the lineup. But Sunday, Carl Crawford moved down to the seventh slot after hitting second on Saturday, while catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia batted eighth and Darnell McDonald got the start in right field, batting ninth.
With Jacoby Ellsbury's two-run homer and Dustin Pedroia's jack that followed shortly thereafter in Saturday's sixth inning, the Red Sox added to their league-leading total of 80 homers on the road this year. The next closest team is St. Louis with 70. Boston batters have hit at least one home run in each of the team's last 11 road games.
The club announced Saturday that left-hander Jon Lester will start the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader against Tampa Bay, while Erik Bedard will try for his first win in a Red Sox uniform during the nightcap.
Taylor Soper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.