Posted: Thursday October 07, 1999 12:50 AM
CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Pedro Martinez strained his back and Travis Fryman made it a painful night for the Boston Red Sox.
Fryman singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Cleveland Indians snapped an eight-game losing streak in playoff openers with a 3-2 victory in their American League Division Series.
The Red Sox lost Martinez after four innings and could withstand the absence of the likely Cy Young Award winner for only so long before losing for the 17th time in their last 18 postseason games. He hurt himself throwing a pitch to Jim Thome in the fourth inning.
"I made one of my best pitches to Thome and I felt a little strain in my back. I kept pitching but I sort of laid a couple of fastballs in," Martinez said. "Hopefully I will be back for my next (start). I wouldn't have come out of the game if it didn't hurt."
The Indians received a dominant eight-inning performance from starter Bartolo Colon, who allowed two runs, five hits and three walks, striking out 11. Paul Shuey (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
"I think Bartolo was absolutely outstanding. His last pitch was 99 miles per hour," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "That's been his history through his brief career. The deeper in the ballgame he gets, and the game is on the line, he throws harder and gets better."
Derek Lowe did everything he could to keep Boston in contention, but a costly error by third baseman John Valentin in the sixth led to a two-run homer by Thome.
Lowe (0-1) hit Ramirez in the bottom of the ninth and was replaced by Rheal Cormier, who retired Thome on a fly ball before pinch-hitter Wil Cordero singled to right.
Rich Garces relieved and walked Richie Sexson to load the bases before Fryman, who did not drive in a run in 10 postseason games last season, lined a single to left for the game-winner.
"The only good thing about that last at-bat was the result," said Fryman, who was fooled a pitch earlier and barely made contact on a check swing.
Game Two of the best-of-five series is Thursday afternoon at Jacobs Field. The Indians had lost the opener of each playoff series since defeating Boston in the first game of the 1995 Division Series.
"Hopefully we will know how to act when we are up 1-0 instead of being down 0-1," Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel said. "No doubt this is huge."
Colon was among baseball's best pitchers in the second half of the season, compiling an 11-2 record with 2.60 ERA in his last 15 starts. The Indians often are called a team without an ace, but Colon clearly pitched like one tonight, allowing just one hit over his final four innings.
The strikeouts were one short of the Cleveland postseason high set by Charles Nagy against Baltimore in the 1996 Division Series.
Nomar Garciaparra played a role in both Boston runs, homering in the second and scoring on a single by Mike Stanley in the fourth. Stanley had three hits and Garciaparra two to account for all of Boston's hits.
Garciaparra hit five homers against Cleveland during the regular season and continued his success in October, belting a 2-1 pitch from Colon over the center-field fence to open the second. Garciaparra also hit three homers in the four-game Division Series loss to Cleveland last season.
The Red Sox made it 2-0 in the fourth when Garciaparra led off with a double and scored on a one-out single to left by Stanley.
Pitching in 49-degree weather, Martinez allowed three hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
"In the fourth inning, I noticed that Pedro threw only in the 80s," Vizquel said. "I turned to Sandy (catcher Sandy Alomar) and said, 'Pedro's not throwing the same.' Sure enough, he was out of the game and that gave us a big lift."
The big lift for the Indians could turn out to be a disaster for Boston, which desperately needs Martinez to start again against a team that scored 1,009 runs this season.
The Indians put runners in scoring position against Martinez in the first and third innings before Ramirez -- who drove in 165 runs during the season -- made the final out each time.
Martinez apparently hurt himself while throwing a pitch in the fourth. His night ended when he ran to cover first on a ground ball by David Justice in that frame. He hesitated slightly as he took the toss from Stanley but did not appear to be in pain.
Lowe dominated the Indians in the regular season, allowing just one hit in 30 at-bats, and was effective in his emergency role, allowing just one hit -- the homer by Thome.
The Indians tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth when Valentin short-hopped a throw to first on a routine two-out grounder by Ramirez.
"When I threw it, I thought it was a strike, but it came up short," Valentin said.
Thome made the Red Sox pay, blasting the first pitch from Lowe 434 feet into the right field bleachers.
"I figured he didn't want to start me off with a fastball," said Thome. "He threw a changeup and sure enough it was there."
It was the 13th career postseason homer for Thome, tying him with Ramirez for fourth on the all-time list.