"This is a team nobody can take for granted. It's one of the
best offensive teams in the league, if not the best," Martinez
said after Nomar Garciaparra, Trot Nixon and Kevin Miller homered
Wednesday night in a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"It's just a matter of us holding the lead. They're going to
put up some runs. I really don't see a hole in our team. The other
team has be worried about our team until the last out is made. This
team can pile up the runs in a heartbeat."
Martinez pitched seven solid innings, despite blowing a
three-run lead, and Boston's revamped bullpen did its job, too, as
the second-place Red Sox won for the seventh time in nine games.
Martinez (6-2) allowed three unearned runs and six hits. He
struck out seven and moved ahead of Cy Young into second place on
Boston's career strikeout list with 1,343.
Roger Clemens is first on the Red Sox's all-time strikeout list
with 2,590. Young had 1,341.
"It's a testament to Petie. He's been great for so many years,
obviously to be able to do that," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek
said. "That's special."
Millar's two-run homer off Jesus Colome (1-4) snapped a 3-3 tie
in the eighth. Millar has four homers, 10 hits and 10 RBI in 29
at-bats against Tampa Bay this season.
Garciaparra and Nixon hit solo homers and Varitek added a RBI
single to give Martinez a 3-0 lead. The Boston ace failed to hold
it when he gave up a three-run homer to Aubrey Huff in the fifth.
Alan Embree pitched the eighth for the Red Sox, allowing Rocco
Baldelli's triple and Huff's sacrifice fly that trimmed Boston's
lead to 5-4.
Byung-Hyun Kim pitched a perfect ninth to earn his first save
since being moved from Red Sox's starting rotation to the bullpen
in the closer's role.
"We gave up a run there in the eighth, but I thought Embree and
Kim both threw the ball very well. That's what we need," Red Sox
manager Grady Little said. "We've got a club that's going to get
some leads. We've just got to nail them down."
For the last-place Devil Rays, it was their 30th loss in a major
league-leading 50 games decided by one or two runs.
"What can I say?" Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella asked.
"I've said many times, we lose a lot of these games because
we're inexperienced. ... A lot of these guys are learning on the
job. I know it's frustrating, but that's how you learn. ... We
battle, we compete, but we fall short. I can't fault my players, I
really can't. They're giving us all they've got."
Garciaparra hit his 13th homer with two outs in the first off
Rob Bell. Nixon led off the second with his 11th of the season, and
the Red Sox increased their lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Nixon
doubled and scored on Varitek's single.
Martinez tied Young for second on Boston's career strikeout list
when he fanned Marlon Anderson to end the fourth with runners at
first and third. Martinez took sole possession of second place when
he struck out Ben Grieve in the fifth.
The Devil Rays also stranded runners in scoring position after
Travis Lee doubled in the second and when Baldelli grounded into an
inning-ending double play after Martinez allowed a walk and single
in the third.
They didn't waste their next opportunity, though, capitalizing
on Garciaparra's fielding error that allowed Julio Lugo to reach
base with one out in the fifth. Carl Crawford singled and one out
later, Huff hit his 16th homer to wipe out Boston's three-run lead.
^Notes:@ Martinez is 9-2 lifetime against the Devil Rays, including
6-1 at Tropicana Field. ... Garciaparra is 6-for-9 lifetime against
Bell with two home runs. ... Varitek has driven in 11 runs during
his eight-game hitting streak. ... The Red Sox signed RHP Todd
Jones, who was released last week by the Colorado Rockies, in a
move to bolster the bullpen. RHP Hector Almonte was designated for
assignment. ... The Devil Rays haven't won consecutive games since
May 15-16 at Baltimore. That's a stretch of 41 games, longest in
team history without back-to-back victories... Tampa Bay has been
outhomered 54-25 at home, compared to 43-31 on the road.