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Martinez improves to 4-0 over his last five starts

7/26/2002

BOSTON (AP) -- Pedro Martinez improved to 9-1 after Red Sox
losses and he's not happy about it.

"I don't really want to pitch after losses. I want to pitch
after wins,'' he said after Boston's 6-0 win over Tampa Bay on
Thursday night that extended his dominating streak to a 4-0 record
and 0.79 ERA in his last five starts.

Boston lost the previous two games of the series against the
worst team in the majors, so Martinez had to deliver in a familiar
role -- getting the Red Sox back on the winning track.

"It actually makes me focus a little more because I know that's
my responsibility. That's why I'm called the ace of the team,'' he
said.

Martinez (13-2) struck out 11 Devil Rays and allowed two singles
and one walk in eight innings before Chris Haney gave up a single
in the ninth.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner lowered his ERA to 2.50. In
his last 34 1/3 innings over five starts, he has 50 strikeouts
while giving up eight walks, 20 hits and three earned runs. He
leads the AL with 169 strikeouts, 46 more than runnerup Roger
Clemens.

"Just his presence out there makes you feel intimidated,''
Tampa Bay's Ben Grieve said.

Trot Nixon hit his 15th homer of the season, a two-run shot in
the first, and Manny Ramirez and Jason Varitek hit back-to-back
homers off Luis De Los Santos (0-2) in the third. Varitek scored
Boston's other run on a double, a groundout and a sacrifice fly by
Brian Daubach in the sixth.

That was much more than the Red Sox needed for their first win
since a 22-4 rout of the Devil Rays in the opener of Tuesday's
day-night doubleheader, After that, Boston lost 5-4 and 9-5 as
Tampa Bay won two straight road games against AL teams for the
first time since May 21-22 in Seattle.

"He is the kind of pitcher who wants to be out there in
situations like that,'' Red Sox manager Grady Little said of
Martinez.

In the 250th start of his career Thursday, Tampa Bay put just
four runners on base against him, two on singles by Carl Crawford
and Randy Winn.

"It was vintage Pedro,'' Devil Rays manager Hal McRae said.
"Pedro was more of a finesse pitcher than a power pitcher
tonight.''

Martinez has made that adjustment after a shoulder injury
limited him to 18 starts last season. And he's still not taking his
health for granted.

"I'm not confident,'' he said. "It's not going to be over
until the season's over and I know I'm healthy.''

After retiring the first eight batters, four on strikeouts, he
gave up a single to Crawford, who took third when first baseman
Jose Offerman let Martinez's pickoff throw get past him for an
error. Winn walked and stole second, but Andy Sheets struck out to
end the inning.

Martinez retired the side in order in the fourth, then hit
Grieve with the first pitch of the fifth. It came after Daubach
nearly was hit in the fourth by De Los Santos and drew a warning to
Martinez and both benches from home-plate umpire Mike Everitt.

"I know what to do,'' Martinez said. "I protect my players.''

Before the bottom of the fifth, Everitt talked with De Los
Santos.

"The umpire told me to be careful,'' he said. "I wasn't
throwing at anybody.''

Martinez set down the next three batters after hitting Grieve,
then Winn singled to start the sixth. But Sheets struck out for the
third time and Aubrey Huff grounded into a double play. He then
retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth.

"They were so young and anxious to swing that they swung at
some bad changeups,'' Martinez said.

The Red Sox needed just two batters to take a 2-0 lead. Johnny
Damon started the first with a single and Nixon followed with his
homer.

Boston made it 5-0 in the third, scoring three runs with two
outs. After Nixon walked, Ramirez hit his 17th homer and fifth in
five games. The next hitter, Varitek, followed with his seventh
homer.

Game notes
De Los Santos issued two walks, both to Nixon. ... Varitek
extended his hitting streak to 11 games and Nixon increased his to
10, both season highs. ... Tampa Bay's John Flaherty had his
hitting streak stopped at six games. ... Damon stretched his
errorless streak to 219 games, best in the majors. ... Martinez
struck out at least 10 for the seventh time in 21 starts this
season, the 58th with Boston and the 85th in his career.