Series: Game 1 of 3

Boston leads 1-0 (as of 9/26)

Game 1: Friday, September 26
Tampa Bay2
Game 2: Saturday, September 27
Tampa Bay5
Game 3: Sunday, September 28
Tampa Bay3

Red Sox 7

(95-65, 42-37 away)

Devil Rays 2

(61-99, 34-45 home)

    7:15 PM ET, September 26, 2003

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    BOS 200301001 7 12 1
    TB 000101000 2 8 1

    W: J. Burkett (12-9)

    L: G. Gonzalez (6-11)

    Martinez goes three strong innings in rout

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox look as if they're ready for postseason play.

    Pedro Martinez pitched three scoreless innings in his final playoff tuneup and Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer as the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-2 on Friday night.

    With their 17th win 24 games, the Red Sox improved to 95-65 -- the first time Boston has won that many since advancing to the World Series in 1986.

    "The number of victories doesn't matter," Boston manager Grady Little said. "It's special because we're going to play some more in October."

    Little had Martinez on a strict pitch count after picking him the starter for Boston's playoff opener Wednesday at Oakland. The right-hander allowed two hits and struck out two during a 51-pitch outing.

    Little also rested several starters -- including Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller and Kevin Millar -- one day after Boston clinched the AL wild-card berth.

    "Everything went smoothly out there tonight," Little said. "We got the work in with the people we wanted and we were able to win the game, too."

    John Burkett (12-9), who got just one out and gave up seven runs in Boston's 14-3 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday in his last start, allowed two runs and four hits over three relief innings for the win.

    "I made some adjustments and I was able to keep the ball down," Burkett said.

    Ramirez gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first off Jeremi Gonzalez (6-11). He's 6-for-15 with three homers against Gonzalez.

    Gonzalez hit Boston's Nomar Garciaparra in the upper left arm with a pitch in the third inning. It was the 95th batter hit by Tampa Bay's staff this season, one more than the major league record set by the Devil Rays last year.

    "That's something we're really going to address next spring," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "I know I'm not pleased with it. I know they're unintentional. At the same time, all it's going to do is keep getting us in problems with other teams."

    Damian Jackson pinch-hit for Garciaparra during a three-run fourth and drove in a two runs with a single to give the Red Sox a 5-0 lead. Adrian Brown earlier had an RBI single.

    Garciaparra said he was fine and will play Saturday.

    "You always like to win," he said. "We get motivated. We go out there and we work."

    Ramirez went 1-for-2 and was replaced by pinch-runner Bill Haselman after walking in the fourth. He is hitting .325, two points below AL leader and Red Sox teammate Mueller.

    Gonzalez allowed five runs and seven hits over four innings to fall to 0-6 in his last seven starts since beating Baltimore on Aug. 19. He has been pitching with a tender rib cage muscle.

    The Devil Rays (61-99) have lost seven of eight and need to win their final two games to avoid a third consecutive 100-loss season.

    "All the young kids we have here, we were concerned about September," Piniella said. "Our tanks are pretty empty. Would it be nice not lose to 100 games? Yes. I hope we can muster enough and come out and play two good ballgames."

    Travis Lee homered off Burkett in the fourth to get the Devil Rays within 5-1.

    Gabe Kapler hit a solo homer to make it 6-1 in the sixth. Damian Rolls had an RBI single in the bottom half.

    Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but failed to score. Brandon Lyon worked out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending grounder from Rocco Baldelli.

    Doug Mirabelli's RBI double in the ninth made it 7-2.

    Game notes

    The Devil Rays became the last team in the majors to reach 1 million in home attendance with an announced crowd of 21,240. Tampa Bay has drawn 1,008,904 this year at Tropicana Field. ... Red Sox OF Trot Nixon (left calf) missed his third straight game. Little said Nixon might see some action as the DH this weekend. ... Tampa Bay SS Julio Lugo (four games) and DH Aubrey Huff (three games) had home run streaks end. The team record of five straight games was set by Jose Canseco in 1999. ... Little said Saturday's starter, RHP Jeff Suppan, will go only four or five innings. RHP Tim Wakefield, who pitches Sunday, is expected to throw three innings.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press