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Red Sox's Fossum strikes out first six batters

BOSTON (AP) -- The best pitchers in the Red Sox rotation over the
past two weeks aren't Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, the All-Star
selections and Cy Young Award favorites.

Actually, it's Casey Fossum and Tim Wakefield who have been the
stoppers of the Boston staff.

Fossum combined with three relievers on a three-hitter, and
Manny Ramirez had a homer and three RBI on Saturday as the Red Sox
beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 Saturday night.

"His development is a big plus for the organization,'' Boston
manager Grady Little said after Fossum matched a career-high with
nine strikeouts in six innings. "He improves each and every time
out there.''

It was the second consecutive win for Fossum (4-3), the second
straight win for the Red Sox and the second time in a row that
Wakefield and Fossum have won back-to-back starts.

Lowe and Ugueth Urbina have Boston's only other wins since Aug.
24. Since then, Martinez has started just once because of injuries
to his hip and groin; he threw in the bullpen Saturday and could
return to the rotation next week.

"It's not like we're putting pressure on ourselves that Pedro's
hurt, we've got to win,'' Fossum said. "I don't worry about that.
I just want to win myself.''

Wayne Gomes, Alan Embree and Ugueth Urbina each pitched a
perfect inning in relief. Urbina earned his 31st save in 36
opportunities.

Fossum, called up on from Triple-A in July, got his first six
outs by strikeout, a streak that was interrupted by Tom Wilson's
solo homer that gave Toronto a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

The Red Sox scored two off Brian Bowles (0-1) in the sixth when
Ramirez hit an RBI double and scored on Cliff Floyd's single.
Ramirez added a two-run homer in the eighth, a 430-foot shot over
the screen above the Green Monster to make it 4-1.

Fossum started out by hitting leadoff batter Shannon Stewart
with a pitch, causing a forearm bruise that forced Stewart out of
the game. Dave Berg walked, then Fossum struck out Vernon Wells,
Carlos Delgado and Josh Phelps to end the first and Chris Woodward
to start the second.

After Wilson hit his eighth homer of the season, Fossum bounced
back by fanning Jayson Werth and Felipe Lopez to end the second.

Lopez, who doubled in the fifth, was the only other Toronto
batter to reach second base. The nine strikeouts ties a career high
for Fossum, who also fanned nine in a seven-inning relief
appearance in July. The Blue Jays struck out 13 times in the game.

While the Red Sox cling to diminishing hopes in the AL playoff
race, Toronto is already eliminated and playing for next year. The
first four Blue Jays pitchers were rookies, including starter Mark
Hendrickson, who was making his first major-league start.

Hendrickson allowed just two hits and two walks, striking out
one and leaving after five innings with a 1-0 lead. But Bowles
couldn't protect it, allowing two runs on three hits.

"Any time you can leave the game with your team ahead, it's a
good outing,'' said Hendrickson, a former NBA player who got a
no-decision. "You did your job. For the most part, I was happy.''

Johnny Damon led of the sixth with a double and, two outs later,
Ramirez poked an 0-2 pitch down the right-field line to tie it.
Ramirez took third on a wild pitch and scored to make it 2-1 when
Floyd singled to right over the first baseman's head.

Game notes
Martinez threw more than 50 pitches in the bullpen before
the game and could be ready to start Tuesday or Wednesday. He
will miss two turns in the rotation, including Sunday, because of
groin and hip problems. ... Shane Andrews made his Red Sox debut.
... Ramirez has enough at-bats to qualify for the league leaders.
He is third in batting average (.333) and third in slugging (.612),
and first in on-base percentage and batting average with runners in
scoring position. ... Toronto 2B Orlando Hudson was a late scratch
because of lingering effects from the flu. Dave Berg replaced him
in the lineup. ... At 6-foot-9, Hendrickson is the tallest Blue Jay
ever, taking the honor from 6-foot-7 Graeme Lloyd. ... The Red Sox
had gone a season-high five games without a homer. ... Toronto fell
to 31-31 against the AL East. It is 18 games under .500 in all.