BOSTON (AP) -- Not since last year's Red Sox went "Cowboy Up"
in the regular season -- and belly up in the postseason -- has the
Boston dugout been such a jovial place to watch a baseball game.
With Derek Lowe donning a Dominican flag wrapped around his head
to cheer on Pedro Martinez, the three-time Cy Young Award winner
struck out eight to move into the top 20 on baseball's career list
and lead Boston to a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers 5-1.
"This is not a boring clubhouse, or dugout," manager Terry
Francona said Saturday night after the Red Sox stretched their
winning streak to five games. "I think these guys feel good about
each other. ... They look like they care about each other. They
stick together. Of course it's easier to do that when you're
Bill Mueller had three hits and scored twice for the Red Sox,
who have won 11 of 12 to take a 1½-game lead over Anaheim in the
wild-card race and close with 5½ games of the New York Yankees in
the AL East. The Red Sox have won 17 of their last 21 and are 19-8
since trading Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs on July 31.
Martinez (14-5) allowed one run and four hits with two walks
with two hit batters in seven innings before Alan Embree and Ramiro
Mendoza combined for hitless relief. Martinez finished with 2,614
strikeouts, passing Chuck Finley for 20th place.
"I keep finding out every time I have an outing that I did
something special," said Martinez, who in his previous start
passed Sandy Koufax for double-digit strikeout games. "Top 20? Who
would imagine that?"
Jeremy Bonderman (7-11) matched Martinez most of the game,
allowing three runs, four hits and four walks. He left trailing
just 2-1 with one out in the seventh before the Red Sox scored
three times to break open the game.
Mueller led off with a single and Gabe Kapler sacrificed him to
second. Jamie Walker relieved and got Dave Roberts on a pop foul to
first base, but Mark Bellhorn doubled into the left-field corner to
Johnny Damon bounced a double into the Red Sox bullpen to score
Bellhorn, and David Ortiz singled to score Damon and make it 5-1.
Jason Varitek singled, and that was it for Walker; Esteban Yan
struck out Kevin Millar to end the threat.
Bonderman was coming off his first career shutout, but he has
lost four of his last six starts.
"You normally win 90 percent of the games when you throw like
that," he said. "But (not) when you go up against a guy that's
Detroit led 1-0 before Boston scored twice on one hit in the
Mueller drew a one-out walk and stole second, then Kapler also
walked. Roberts followed with a sharp grounder down the first base
line for a double. Bellhorn grounded out to second base, scoring
^Notes:@ Martinez is 10-2 in his last 17 starts, 8-1 at Fenway
Park this year and 6-0 lifetime against Detroit. ... The Red Sox
had a successful sacrifice bunt for the third consecutive game. ...
Damon scored his 100th run of the season -- his seventh consecutive
season reaching the mark. ... C Ivan Rodriguez was out of the
Tigers lineup for the second straight night, recovering from a
cold. He's also just 2-for-15 lifetime against Martinez. LF Rondell
White remains day to day with a left hip flexor strain. He's
2-for-18 lifetime against the Red Sox ace. ... SS Carlos Guillen is
day to day with a sore right knee. ... Boston OF Manny Ramirez was
not in the starting lineup due to a bruised left knee. The AL
home-run leader (34) fouled a ball off the leg in the fourth inning
Friday. Due to the injury, Damon batted third for just the second
time this season.