BOSTON (AP) - Pedro Martinez likes the hot weather, and his record proves it. On a sunny afternoon at Fenway Park, he struck out 10 in his first
shutout in almost four years and the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-0 Thursday for their fifth win in six games.
Martinez improved to 9-1 since losing in Toronto on May 16. He got off to a slow start early this season, when it was still chilly.
"The weather was worse than I have ever faced before. You can't feel the ball," Martinez said. "But as the weather has gone along, I've gotten better.
And, hopefully, it can carry over to the end of the season."
With a gametime temperature of 82 degrees, Martinez (13-4) gave up six hits, no walks and did not allow a runner past second base.
"When it heats up, he seems to heat up," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "Right now is when we need him to be strong."
Martinez hasn't missed a start all season for the Red Sox, who moved a season-high 13 games over .500 and hold a slim lead in the AL wild-card race
with 49 games left.
"He's not the power guy he used to be but he pitches," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "He was in full control out there."
Martinez threw 109 pitches in his 42nd career complete game and first since last Sept. 16 against Tampa Bay. His 16th shutout was his first since he
beat the Devil Rays 8-0 on Aug. 29, 2000. He also passed Bob Feller and Warren Spahn for 21st place in career strikeouts with 2,590.
"I don't pay attention to those numbers, but it's always great to find out," said Martinez, who lowered his ERA from 3.94 to 3.72.
He struck out at least 10 for the third straight game, fourth this year and 97th time in his career, tying Sandy Koufax for fourth place on the
all-time list. Carl Crawford led off the game with a single and went to second on a sacrifice before the next two batters grounded out. In the fifth,
Julio Lugo singled and Aubrey Huff was hit by a pitch with none out, but Rocco Baldelli popped out, Tino Martinez struck out and Jose Cruz Jr. flied
out. In the ninth, Huff led off with a double but was stranded when Martinez retired the next three batters, ending the game by striking out Cruz.
"First and second, man on second in the ninth, what's the difference?" Piniella said.
Martinez got plenty of support as the Red Sox had 15 hits for the second straight game. On Wednesday night, they beat Tampa Bay 14-4. On Thursday,
every starter had at least one hit. David Ortiz and Bill Mueller each had three hits and Ortiz had two RBIs, giving him a career-high 102. He had 101
Boston took a 5-0 lead with two runs in a bizarre fifth inning. The last five batters got hits but two were thrown out at the plate by Baldelli, who
leads AL center fielders with nine assists. Kevin Youkilis grounded out leading off the inning before Boston put runners at first and second on
singles by Manny Ramirez and Ortiz. Kevin Millar's double scored Ramirez and sent Ortiz to third.
Then Baldelli's strong arm got two runners at home on consecutive batters. Jason Varitek's single scored Ortiz, but the slow-footed Millar was thrown
out at the plate. Orlando Cabrera singled and, again, third-base coach Dale Sveum waved the runner home. But Baldelli's throw beat Varitek to the
"They were both perfect throws," Sveum said. "If you have a lead, you're more likely to send (runners) than when you're three runs behind."
In the sixth, Sveum held three runners at third and the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Only Mueller, who doubled, scored when Ortiz singled him
home. The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first against Mark Hendrickson (8-11) on Youkilis' seventh homer of the season.
"Every inning was kind of a battle," Hendrickson said after allowing five runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Boston added two runs in the third on RBI singles by Gabe Kapler and Ortiz.