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Porcello takes hill as Red Sox pursue sweep of Mariners

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox are hot.

The Seattle Mariners are not.

On Sunday, the Red Sox, who have won six in a row, including the first two games of the weekend series with the Mariners, will send Rick Porcello out for the potential sweep of both the series and their six-game homestand.

The Mariners, who have lost seven of their last eight and scored nine runs in those eight games, send right-hander Justin Bergman out to try to save their weekend.

"This is embarrassing," Nelson Cruz said after Saturday's 6-0 loss. "I don't think we should be in this situation. I understand we have injuries and all that but there's a point where you have to turn everything around."

Asked about using the word embarrassing, Cruz said, "We haven't scored runs in how many days?"

They scored one run in each game of a five-game losing streak, got a three-run homer from Cruz and scored four in a win in Washington and now have been blanked in back-to-back games for the first time in almost 3 years.

Bergman, 1-2 in the majors this season after starting 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA at Tacoma, is going for Seattle in the finale.

Boston starter Brian Johnson went all the way in a five-hitter Saturday before being optioned back to Pawtucket. They have outscored their opposition 47-15 during the winning streak, compiled against three teams from the American League West.

Porcello (3-5) has already lost one more game this season than he did when winning the Cy Young Award last year. He won his last start, but gave up a season-high 11 hits and four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in that game.

Porcello is 6-4 with a 3.69 ERA in 11 career starts against the Mariners -- 1-1 in two starts against Seattle last year (including a complete game).

The right-hander has a 3.18 ERA over his last seven starts and has 30 strikeouts while issuing just three walks in 31 2/3 innings over his last five starts. But he has yielded 29 hits and 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings in his last three starts.

Robinson Cano is 10-for-30 (.333) with a homer against him, but Nelson Cruz is just 5-for-31 (.161) with nine strikeouts, Danny Valencia is 4-for-18 (.222), Jarrod Dyson is 2-for-11 (.182) and Kyle Seager is 3-for-13 (.231).

Bergman, coming off a strong outing -- 7 1/3 innings, two hits, no runs, nine strikeouts against -- against the Oakland A's, was shelled in Washington in his last start. He lasted four innings and gave up 14 hits, including four homers, and 10 runs, all earned.

He is 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA this season and 8-11 with a 5.85 with the Rockies and Mariners. He signed with Seattle as a free agent back in December.

On Saturday, Johnson was the story for the Red Sox, becoming the first Boston pitcher to pitch a shutout in his Fenway Park debut since Pedro Martinez way back in 1998 -- also against Seattle.

Then, he was sent back to the minors.

"That's the reality of the game," manager John Farrell said after Johnson, 26, struck out eight and walked none in his second win in as many tries this season -- with 85 strikes in 109 pitches.

"He was outstanding with first-pitch strikes, a great job with overall strike percentage ... just really happy for him, as everyone is here, given all that he's been through and just a game in complete control."

He pitched Boston's first complete game of the season.

The Red Sox have back-to-back shutouts for the first time in almost two years.