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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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July 21, 2008 11:18 PM

Lester dominates; Ramirez lectured by traffic cop

Posted by Geoff Baker

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The Boston fans in the crowd here, and there were thousands of them at Safeco Field tonight, erupt as Jonathan Papelbon and company jog back to the dugout after ending a wild eighth inning. Seattle loaded the bases with one out off Jon Lester, but Papelbon came in and got a double-play grounder from Raul Ibanez to end Seattle's last real chance.

Boston wins it 4-0 as Lester scatters eight hits, three of them in the eighth inning. Lester went 7 1/3 scoreless frames, striking out six. He didn't walk anybody. Though he threw 103 pitches on the night, 42 of them came in notching his final four outs. Before that, he needed only 61 pitches to breeze through six innings.

"Lester stepped up,'' said Papelbon, who retired the side in the ninth for the save. "He's stepping up for us. He's a guy right now we're kind of leaning on.''

The story of the game, from a Mariners perspective, was not Miguel Batista pitching a scoreless ninth in which he gave up a pair of singles and a walk that loaded the bases with two out. It was Jarrod Washburn going 5 2/3 frames and allowing just two earned runs on the Jason Varitek home run. Any team wanting to trade for Washburn now has seen him go roughly six innings every time out for the past couple of months. They've seen him limit opponents to two or three runs per game. Tonight, it was against a better-quality opponent.

"They're definitely in the top three or four offenses in our league,'' Washburn said after his team's third consecutive loss. "The Yankees, Detroit and Boston. Even without (David) Ortiz in that lineup, it's an awful good lineup. They've got some speed in there and they've got guys who put the ball in-play, take their walks and they've got power.''

What teams saw from Washburn tonight is what they'll likely get. He won't dominate like Lester did tonight. But he will get you through to the late-inning bullpen guys if he keeps this up.

"He really did a good job,'' Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. "Washburn has given us a chance to win the ballgame just about every time out there and he did it again tonight. When he leaves, it's 2-0, and when you've only given up a couple of runs to Boston, you've probably done a pretty good job.''

Want to hear a funny story? Here's one, a blog exclusive for all of you. Won't read about it anywhere else tomorrow.

Seems that Boston slugger Manny Ramirez was leaving the ballpark, with headphones on trying to look inconspicuous and quickly get away from the crowds still leaving the stadium. He started to cross South Royal Brougham Way, against the signals of a traffic cop who was directing pedestrians. The police officer demanded that Ramirez open his wallet and show identification. He warned him that he could face a $500 fine and possible arrest for disobeying a police officer.

It became clear to those watching that the policeman had no idea who Ramirez was. He didn't ask for an autograph or anything, but did ask Ramirez if he'd attended the game. After the brief lecture, and no argument from Ramirez, the police officer let him go with no further trouble.

Ah, maybe baseball needs a higher profile in this town? Or, maybe Ramirez has to sit around and talk to the media like everyone else on his team, so he doesn't get caught up in post-game foot traffic? I don't know, I just thought it was a funny story.

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