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Red Sox smack five homers in rout

9/22/2002

BALTIMORE (AP) -- As another disappointing and unfulfilling
season winds down for the Boston Red Sox, the triumphant return of
Pedro Martinez stands out as perhaps the team's biggest highlight.

Martinez earned his 20th win, and Trot Nixon hit a grand slam as
the Red Sox cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 13-2 Sunday.

Sitting in front of Martinez's locker after the game were three
balloons, two of which had the numbers 2 and 0. There was also a
bottle of expensive champagne and a fruit basket.

The victory kept Boston mathematically alive in the AL wild-card
race, but the Red Sox long ago reached the point where the focus is
on individual success.

On this day, Martinez was recognized for his accomplishments
over an entire season.

Martinez (20-4) has won three Cy Young Awards, but this is only
his second 20-win season. It comes after an injury-plagued year in
which he won only seven games while battling a sore shoulder.

"I remember having flashbacks to spring training and you guys
asking me every day, `Are you going to be able to throw the next
day?' Today is the day I'm very thankful for the way things have
come along,'' he said.

Martinez joined Derek Lowe (21-7) to give Boston its first pair
of 20-game winners since 1949, when Mel Parnell (25-7) and Ellis
Kinder (23-6) accomplished the feat.

"To become a 20-game winner with Lowe really means a lot to
me,'' Martinez said. "I don't have any way to say thanks to God
for keeping me healthy.''

Lowe, Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez have enjoyed
outstanding seasons, but the comeback of Martinez proved to be
inspirational to the entire team.

"We wanted to win this game for Pedro,'' said Johnny Damon, who
homered twice.

After giving up two runs and four hits in the first, Martinez
blanked the Orioles on three hits over the next five innings before
leaving with Boston up 8-2.

The right-hander struck out six and walked one. He's 7-1
lifetime against Baltimore, including 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA this
season.

Martinez said that winning 20 in a comeback season makes this
the most notable year of his illustrious career.

"The one I'm most proud of is this one. The one I really get
satisfaction from is this one,'' he said. "It doesn't matter what
the other ones are. The other ones are good seasons, but I was
healthy. I never knew what being hurt was like.''

And the Red Sox had no idea how he would rebound from last
year's disappointment.

"We went through opening day and there were still questions.
There were questions through a lot of his outings early in the
year,'' Boston manager Grady Little said. "But he aggressively got
better and better.''

Damon, Nomar Garciaparra and Cliff Floyd homered in a five-run
seventh that virtually assured Martinez of his third straight win.

Damon added a solo shot in the eighth for his fourth career
two-homer game. Nixon completed the rout in the ninth with his
fifth career slam and second this season.

Jeff Conine had two hits and an RBI for the Orioles, who have
lost five straight and 25 of 29.

The Red Sox led 3-2 before pulling away in the seventh. Rey
Sanchez singled off Sidney Ponson (7-8) and Damon followed with a
shot over the right-field wall. One out later, Garciaparra hit No.
23, and after Ramirez singled to chase Ponson, Floyd homered off
B.J. Ryan.

"Sidney got a couple of balls up for home runs, and we couldn't
stop the bleeding after that,'' Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said.

Boston got a run in the first when Damon walked and scored on a
single by Ramirez.

The Orioles answered in the bottom half, opening with four
straight hits to take a 2-1 lead. Jerry Hairston and Chris
Singleton hit successive doubles, Conine followed with an RBI
single and Tony Batista singled before Martinez finally settled
down.

Shea Hillenbrand put the Red Sox up for good with a two-out,
two-run double in the second.

Hairston and Conine singled in the fifth and moved up to second
and third with two outs before Martinez retired Jay Gibbons on a
routine fly to center.

Game notes
Martinez's only other 20-win season was in 1999 (23-4). ...
Baltimore has given up at least one run in the first inning in four
straight games and five of six. ... Batista ended an 0-for-13 slump
with his first-inning single. ... Baltimore SS Mike Bordick got the
day off, leaving his string of 103 errorless games intact. ...
Martinez is 19-2 against the AL.