Pedro needs season-high 128 pitches to finish off AngelsPosted: Wednesday August 06, 2003 10:26 PM
Updated: Wednesday August 06, 2003 11:58 PM
BOSTON (AP) -- The bases were loaded, the huge crowd was screaming and Pedro Martinez reached back for one last fastball.
Tim Salmon took the 2-and-2 pitch for a third strike and Martinez pointed to the sky. He had just pitched his second complete game of the season, a 4-2 win for the Boston Red Sox over the Anaheim Angels on Wednesday night.
"If I had a hat, I'd take it off right now and tip it to him," catcher Jason Varitek said in the Boston clubhouse. "It was a top-notch performance."
Martinez threw 128 pitches for the second time in three starts and was firing 96 mph fastballs in the ninth inning. The last pitch appeared to be high and outside, but Salmon didn't complain.
"Those guys late in the game get those pitches," said Salmon, who walked slowly from home plate after umpire Dale Scott's call. "You halfway expect it."
Just as outstanding performances are standard for Martinez (8-2), who extended his unbeaten string to nearly three months. He struck out 11 and allowed 10 hits, one walk and one earned run before the second biggest crowd this season at Fenway Park.
Martinez refused to talk with reporters, his custom for most of the season.
"He was at his very best in the eighth and ninth inning," Boston manager Grady Little said. "You could see it in his eyes. He wanted to go out there and get it for himself and he did just that."
Then Salmon struck out.
"Everyone knows that Pedro's going right at hitters," Boston DH David Ortiz said. "We were going, `Oh, my God, what's going to happen here?' But we believe in Pedro."
Since losing 5-0 to Minnesota on May 9, Martinez is 5-0 in 12 starts. And in the seven games in which he didn't get a decision, he allowed a total of only 10 earned runs.
After escaping a jam with runners at second and third in the seventh, he struck out the side in the eighth and went on to the 40th complete game of his career, 20 with Boston.
"He came back in the eighth and ninth and threw the ball as well as I've ever seen him," Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said.
Boston won its third straight game after losing four in a row. Anaheim dropped to 2-10 in its last 12 with its fourth straight loss.
Before a crowd of 35,040 -- only the 35,099 who watched the New York Yankees in Boston on May 19 was bigger -- the Red Sox led 3-0 after five innings with the help of Nomar Garciaparra's 20th homer of the year, a solo shot.
In each of Martinez's previous six games in which he didn't get a decision, the Red Sox scored no more than two runs while he was in the game.
Boston made it 3-0 in the fifth on Garciaparra's second homer in two days. He has reached base in 51 of his 52 home games, including the last 13.
Johnny Damon singled in Boston's fourth run in the eighth.
Held to four singles in the first five innings, the Angels reached Martinez for a run in the sixth on consecutive doubles by Salmon and Garret Anderson, who had singled in his first two at-bats. But Anderson struck out in the eighth.
Center fielder Damon kept the Angels from scoring in the seventh when he leaped high against the left-center field wall to catch a drive by Adam Kennedy, who led off the inning.
That play became critical when Bengie Molina singled and took third on Eckstein's two-out double. But Erstad hit a bouncer to Martinez, who threw to first baseman Millar, preserving Boston's 3-1 lead.
"I just heard the fans go crazy," Damon said. "That's what I'm hoping for -- someone got to leave the ballpark with a very positive attitude about tonight's game."
Notes: Garciaparra reached the 20-homer mark for the sixth time in seven seasons. He missed it in 2001 when he played just 21 games following surgery on his right wrist. ... The triple by Ortiz gave him 10 extra-base hits in his last 10 hits. He has five doubles, two triples and three homers. ... Sele allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, the seventh straight start in which he has allowed three or less. ... Trot Nixon was Boston's only starter without a hit.