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BOS@SEA: Ross doubles to bring Red Sox within a run

SEATTLE -- A disappointing and dreadful road trip is finally over for the Red Sox, ending somewhat appropriately with another loss in the books.

One night after snapping its longest losing streak in more than a decade, Boston fell to Seattle, 2-1, in Wednesday night's rubber match at Safeco Field.

The loss wraps up a historically bad road trip, one that started with seven losses for the first time since 1960. It was also the first time Boston has gone 1-8 on a three-city West Coast swing since 1989.

Losing starting pitcher Aaron Cook could only chuckle when asked about the trip.

"Yeah, it's time to go home," said Cook, who got the loss despite giving up only two runs. "It was a bad, bad road trip for us. Everybody needs to relax and come back out and put on a good show for our fans at Fenway."

Embattled skipper Bobby Valentine, who was involved in a controversial radio interview earlier Wednesday, has been on hundreds of road trips all around the world. But this one ranks near the bottom in terms of performance.

"This was not a very good road trip, obviously," he said. "One of the worst I've ever experienced."

Hindering the Red Sox has been a struggling offense, and it was the same story in front of the 13,037 in attendance Wednesday.

Boston simply couldn't manufacture enough runs off the Mariners pitching. Only two Red Sox made it past second base and the team finished with just five hits. The offense, which showed a little life in Tuesday's 4-3 win, has now scored just 15 runs in its past eight games.

"I just think our pitch selection right now needs to get a little better, and I believe it will," Valentine said.

The Red Sox made Seattle starter Kevin Millwood, who hadn't won since July 28 and came in with a 5.97 ERA, look like an ace. The veteran kept Boston in check and pitched six innings, giving up one run off four hits, and improved to 5-12.

Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen picked up his 24th save of the season while Boston lost its third consecutive series. Seattle manager Eric Wedge gave props to his bullpen for helping seal the close victory.

"Millwood gave us every chance to win, but those guys had to come in and get it done in a tight ballgame," Wedge said. "Everybody to a man did a great job. We did a lot of mixing and matching tonight and everybody that came in was really fantastic tonight."

Cook wasn't nearly on point as his last outing at Safeco Field, when he threw a two-hit shutout on 81 pitches, but he still fared well. Cook, who hasn't won in nearly a month, went six innings, giving up the two runs on seven hits.

"I felt like [catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia] and I were on a good page all night, mixing in sliders, cutters and breaking balls," said Cook, who fell to 3-9 on the season. "It was just a tough game."

Cook's pitching fluctuated over the first few innings. By the fourth, the 33-year-old set a season high in strikeouts with five but also matched a season high with three walks.

But he cracked in the fourth, when the Mariners scored all they would need after Cook allowed the first three batters on base. One out later, Dustin Ackley lined a two-run single up the middle that gave Seattle a 2-0 advantage.

Boston threatened in the sixth after Cody Ross dropped a two-out double into the right corner of Safeco Field that scored Jacoby Ellsbury and cut the Mariners lead to 2-1. But Millwood got James Loney to fly out and then struck out Saltalamacchia to leave Ross at second and keep Seattle's lead intact.

Ross was the bright spot for the Red Sox offense, going 3-for-4 with the lone RBI.

The Red Sox also had a chance to score in the fourth when Ryan Lavarnway had the bases loaded with two out, but the designated hitter grounded out to end the threat.

Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-3 to end his 15-game hitting streak. Asked what goals the team has for the final stretch of the season, the second baseman simply said: "We're trying to win ballgames."

With games coming up against American League East rivals in the midst of a pennant race, Valentine thinks his spiraling squad -- one that is just 10-24 since Aug. 1 -- still has something to play for.

"I want us to play together and show that we have a lot of pride," he said. "I think we do and I think we'll grind it out. Maybe we'll be a spoiler on the way -- that'd be fun, too."

Certainly a lot more fun than this trip -- that's for sure.

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