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Friday, October 3, 2003
Burkett would get Game 4 nod

Associated Press

BOSTON -- Pedro Martinez will be held back for a potential fifth game of Boston's playoff series against Oakland rather than pitch on short rest in Game 4.

"He would have been available for Game 4, but in the position we're in now, we have to win three games," Boston manager Grady Little said Friday, an off-day in the best-of-five series. "He can't pitch all the games."

Oakland leads the series 2-0, and the Red Sox would have to win on Saturday and Sunday in Boston to force a Game 5. But Little said he would rather save the three-time Cy Young winner for when he would be strongest.

Martinez started Game 1 against Oakland on Wednesday and left after seven innings with a 4-3 lead. He allowed six hits and four walks in seven innings, throwing a season-high 130 pitches; the Red Sox lost 5-4 in 12 innings.

Martinez has not pitched on three days' rest in six seasons since joining the Red Sox. He led the league in 2003 with a 2.22 ERA and .215 opponents' batting average and was second with 206 strikeouts and a .778 winning percentage (14-4).

Derek Lowe is scheduled to start Saturday in Game 3. If Boston wins, John Burkett will start Sunday's Game 4.

"That's exciting," Burkett said. "I really believe this team can do it."

Burkett, who made the playoffs with Texas and Atlanta before coming to Boston last year, is in the playoffs for the sixth time since 1996. Twice, in 1998-99, he did not pitch in the postseason.

"I like pitching," Burkett said when asked if he would have been disappointed to be skipped over for Martinez, "but I understand that Pedro's one of the best pitchers in the world.

"I want our team to win. Grady's going to do what's best for our team. And I hate to say it, but I think Pedro's a little bit better pitcher than me."

The Red Sox were in a similar situation in 1998, when they fell behind Cleveland 2-0 in the first round. Manager Jimy Williams decided to hold Martinez for a potential Game 5 and started Pete Schourek in the fourth game; Schourek pitched 5 1-3 shutout innings, but the Indians won, and Martinez wasn't needed again.

Little also announced that Damian Jackson will start at second base Saturday, with Gabe Kapler in right field. That leaves Todd Walker and Trot Nixon on the bench.