ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Pedro Martinez can't ever remember
feeling this good this late in the season. That's bad news for the
rest of Boston's opponents.
Pedro Martinez improved his record to 8-0 in nine starts since his mid-June struggles.
Martinez struck out 10 in seven shutout innings for his 15th
win, and Nomar Garciaparra homered twice as the Red Sox beat the
Texas Rangers 11-3 Sunday night. Martinez (15-2), who has pitched 23 scoreless innings over his
last three starts, joined teammate Derek Lowe and Oakland's Barry
Zito as the AL's only 15-game winners. He allowed just three
singles. ''I feel great. I feel better than at the beginning of the
season. It's weird, and something new for me,'' Martinez said. ''I
was trying to be cautious early on and pitch a little more careful
than I am now.'' A shoulder injury limited Martinez to just 18 games last year.
He began this season not sure what to expect, and very measured in
his approach. With two months left in the regular season, the three-time Cy
Young winner not only feels good, he believes he's pitching as well
as he ever has. ''I'm pitching as equally well if not better,'' Martinez said.
''I've been pitching after losses and I have been able to pick up
the time. It's something I take a lot of pride in.'' Garciaparra went 4-for-4 to lead the Red Sox, who had 19 hits.
Shea Hillenbrand and Cliff Floyd, in just his fourth game for
Boston, had three hits each. Every Boston starter had at least one
I feel great. I feel better than at the beginning of the season. It's weird, and something new for me. I was trying to be cautious early on and pitch a little more careful than I am now. ”
— Pedro Martinez
Garciaparra homered on the next pitch after Trot Nixon hit his
18th homer in the third inning, and the Red Sox led 3-0.
Garciaparra's second homer, a two-run shot, capped a five-run
fourth and chased Aaron Myette (0-4) with the score 8-0.
Martinez is 8-0 with a 0.98 ERA (seven earned runs over 64 1/3
innings) in his nine starts since losing consecutive games against
Arizona and Atlanta in mid-June. He improved to 11-1 after Boston
losses. ''He just keeps getting better and better,'' Boston manager
Grady Little said. ''He's getting better every outing, and feeling
good.'' It was the eighth time this season, and the 86th in his career,
that Martinez had at least 10 strikeouts. His 188 strikeouts lead
the AL, and his 2.25 ERA is second in the league to Lowe (2.13),
who threw seven shutout innings against Texas in a 13-0 win on
Friday night. A two-out single by Rafael Palmeiro in the seventh ended a
streak of 13 straight batters retired by Martinez. He then gave up
his only walk -- to Carl Everett -- before getting his last out and
leaving after 100 pitches, 67 of them strikes. ''He's obviously extremely tough,'' said Rangers second baseman
Michael Young, who had one of the three singles. ''He throws hard,
has an unbelievable curve and a good change and can throw them all
for strikes. He's nasty.'' Garciaparra, who also had a single and a double, had his third
multihomer game of the season, and the 15th of his career. He has
19 homers this season. Hillenbrand led off the seventh with Boston's fourth homer of
the game and his 16th of the season. It was the eighth time the Red
Sox hit four homers in a game this year. After Hillenbrand was thrown out at home on Rey Sanchez's single
for the second out of the fourth inning, the Red Sox scored five
runs. Johnny Damon had a two-run double, Nixon added a run-scoring
double and Garciaparra hit his two-run homer. Jason Varitek made it 11-0 with a two-run double in the eighth. The Rangers avoided their second shutout in three nights when
Kevin Mench had a broken-bat RBI single off Alan Embree with two
outs in the eighth. Myette failed to get past the fourth inning for the third
straight time. He gave up eight runs on nine hits over 3 2/3
innings, with four strikeouts and two walks. Rob Bell threw 3 1/3 innings in relief of Myette, allowing the
homer to Hillenbrand in his first relief appearance after 66 major
league starts. Boston went ahead 1-0 in the first without a hit as only one of
Myette's first 12 pitches was a strike. Damon and Nixon walked, and
Garciaparra was hit by a pitch, then Floyd grounded into a double
play to score Damon.
The Red Sox remained four games behind AL East-leading New
York, but moved even with Anaheim in the wild card chase after the
Angels lost 7-5 to the Yankees on Sunday. ... The 30 combined wins
by Martinez and Lowe is second-most in the majors behind the 33 by
Arizona's Curt Shilling (18) and Randy Johnson (15). ... Mench, who
struck out twice against Martinez, extended his hitting streak to
10 games. ... Texas went 5-5 on its homestand against Oakland, New
York and Boston.