Martinez cruises through six innings

NEW YORK (AP) -- This one was a laugher for Pedro Martinez and
the Boston Red Sox.

Johnny Damon tripled with the bases loaded Friday night and the
Red Sox roughed up Andy Pettitte in a 9-3 victory over the Yankees
that cut New York's AL East lead to 2{ games.

Martinez (11-4) struck out nine in six easy innings, cruising to
his first win in four starts against the Yankees this season.
Boston had not been so close to first place since Aug. 7 -- the Red
Sox trailed New York by 7{ games on Aug. 20.

"I don't think anybody's scared of anybody -- but they know
we're here," catcher Jason Varitek said. "They've known we're
here all year."

With an 8-0 lead by the third, Martinez even enjoyed a chuckle
on the mound at the expense of absent-minded teammate Manny

The left fielder, never known for his defense, made a terrific
running catch at the wall in the fourth. Ramirez then threw the
ball into the stands and began to jog in, thinking there were three

Martinez flashed an impish smile and put up two fingers, for two
outs, and covered his mouth with his glove. Ramirez and his
teammates also laughed at his mistake.

"I've got a new brain for (him)," David Ortiz said.

"That was hilarious," Kevin Millar said. "We were all dying
laughing. The guy took about 20 steps before he realized there were
two outs. We had a lot of fun with it."

Ramirez was the center of attention all week after he missed
last weekend's series against New York at Fenway Park with a sore
throat and fever, yet managed to pull himself out of bed to
reminisce with Yankees infielder Enrique Wilson about their
Cleveland days.

On Sunday, Ramirez didn't show up for an appointment with the
team doctor, and when he joined the team Monday he sat on the bench
but said he was "too weak" to pinch-hit.

But he was back in the lineup at Yankee Stadium, hitting an RBI
single in the first inning to put Boston on the board and begin the
rout. Varitek drove in two runs, and No. 9 hitter Lou Merloni
reached base four times in Boston's fourth straight win -- all on
the road -- and 11th in 14 games overall.

Ramirez was hit by a pitch in the eighth and left the game.

New York's Roger Clemens makes his final regular-season start
against his former team Saturday. Tim Wakefield goes for Boston in
a rematch of last Sunday's game won by the Rocket.

Pettitte (17-8) had won four straight starts and 12 of his last
13 decisions, including a 10-7 victory over Martinez last Saturday.
Still fighting an illness, the Boston ace blew leads of 3-0 and 4-2
in that game.

"He was a lot stronger, you could tell," Millar said. "When
you're sick you lose a lot."

Pettitte allowed eight earned runs -- his most since giving up
eight Aug. 19, 2001, at Seattle -- and nine hits in 2 1-3 innings.
He walked three, including Merloni twice.

"I wasn't able to get it done tonight," Pettitte said. "I
felt really good in my mind, really until the third inning. And
then I got out of sync."

Martinez struck out four of his first five batters and improved
to 9-8 career against the Yankees. He gave up one run, four hits
and walked one.

"I thought his ball was exploding tonight," Yankees manager
Joe Torre said.

Damon led off the game with a bunt single -- Pettitte failed to
cover first -- and Nomar Garciaparra had an infield single with one
out -- shortstop Wilson threw high on a slow roller.

Ramirez and Ortiz followed with RBI singles to right. Varitek
added a two-out RBI single, making it 3-0.

Garciaparra had a two-out RBI single in the second, and Damon
grounded a bases-loaded triple inside first base in the third,
chasing Pettitte. Bill Mueller followed with an RBI single off Jeff

Wilson and Soriano hit consecutive doubles in the sixth off

The Yankees loaded the bases with none out in the seventh
against Scott Sauerbeck and scored on Wilson's double-play grounder
and Soriano's RBI single.

Game notes
The Yankees lead the season series 9-8. ... SS Garciaparra
threw out Soriano from deep in the hole in the first inning. ...
Weaver had an encouraging outing, allowing one run and five hits in
4 2-3 innings. ... RHP Jorge De Paula made his major league debut
for the Yankees in the eighth and promptly hit Ramirez with an 0-2
pitch. De Paula pitched two hitless innings. ... Wilson, starting
for injured SS Derek Jeter, doubled twice off Martinez, making him
10-for-20 lifetime against the Boston ace.