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Big brother

That other Martinez pitches superbly, but still loses

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Posted: Friday October 15, 1999 02:59 AM

  Ramon Martinez Ramon Martinez allowed runners in each of his seven innings but pitched out of most of his jams. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ramon is Boston's second-best Martinez, not bad considering how good the best one is -- but not good enough to beat the defending champion New York Yankees.

Even when he pitched an outstanding game Thursday night with a surgically repaired right shoulder.

"Classic Ramon," raved Red Sox pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.

But not good enough to beat the Yankees.

"This is one of the greatest teams," Martinez said. "That is the reason why they are here. I know that I am going to have a tough game. I did the best that I could."

And it still wasn't good enough to beat the Yankees.

"He pitched a tremendous game," Boston manager Jimy Williams said. "Kept us in that game."

A game the Yankees still won 3-2 to go ahead 2-0 in the best-of-7 AL championship series. And now the other Martinez -- the one who just happens to be the best pitcher in baseball -- must try to save the Sox again.

Pedro Martinez did it with six innings of hitless relief in Monday night's deciding fifth game of the first round against Cleveland after he sprained a back muscle five days earlier. Boston won it 12-8 after it had lost the first two games of that series.

On Saturday, Ramon's younger brother -- a Cy Young award certainty with a 23-4 record, 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts -- faces former Red Sox star Roger Clemens at Fenway Park in Game 3.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere," Boston reliever Derek Lowe said.

It could have been better if the Red Sox had capitalized on Ramon's strong performance to win Thursday's game. In 6 2-3 innings, he allowed three runs, six hits and three walks and struck out five.

And he was still strong after throwing 120 pitches, 22 more than his busiest game of the six he pitched this year. On Sept. 2, he made his first start since undergoing rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder nearly 15 months earlier.

"I can go farther than that," Ramon said. "I feel fine when I come out of the game. I was just normal. I don't feel any kind of pain, tired or anything."

His final pitch was a changeup that Chuck Knoblauch drove into left field for a run-scoring double that tied the game 2-2 in the seventh.

Ramon, taller and quieter than his more emotional brother but no less competitive, strode slowly from the mound as he left the game.

Tom Gordon came in and Derek Jeter walked.

Exit Gordon, enter lefty Rheal Cormier to pitch to lefty Paul O'Neill. The strategy backfired as O'Neill singled in the winning run.

Cormier "pitched great," Kerrigan said. "You've got to give O'Neill credit for fighting that pitch off."

Ramon helped keep Boston from being swept by Cleveland, pitching 5 2-3 innings in a 9-3 Game 3 win. Williams called on him again Thursday night to get Boston back in the series after it lost Wednesday night 4-3 in 10 innings.

Ramon allowed runners in each of his seven innings but pitched out of most of his jams. He fell behind 1-0 on Tino Martinez's homer in the fourth. And he went ahead 2-1 on Nomar Garciaparra's two-run homer in the fifth.

In the sixth, he allowed only a walk. But in the seventh, Ricky Ledee led off with another walk.

"I thought the only time he strayed off course a little bit was the walk to Ledee," Kerrigan said. "But he got it right back in the stretch."

Scott Brosius' sacrifice bunt moved Ledee to second, and Ramon nearly escaped by getting Joe Girardi to pop out to the infield.

But he was to pitch to only one more batter.

That's when Knoblauch doubled, tying the game and ending Ramon's work.

"He's doing whatever it takes to win," Gordon said. "To us, he's a winning pitcher, regardless of what happened tonight."


 
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