That's why they're letting him get a head start."We're trying to set up the second half where we can run these
guys out there a lot," manager Terry Francona said Wednesday night
after the Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 11-3 thanks to seven
strong innings from Martinez in his final start before the All-Star
break.Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez and Mark Bellhorn homered to
help Boston amass 22 runs on 32 hits in the first two games of the
series. The Red Sox won consecutive games for the first time since
June 17-18."Man, it's been three weeks?" center fielder Johnny Damon
said. "We feel like we can take off. It's probably a good time to
start."Martinez (9-3) allowed one earned run on five hits and a walk,
striking out seven. He gave up three runs in the third before
settling down and facing one batter above the minimum over the next
four innings.The three-time Cy Young winner could have pitched a day earlier
on his regular rest and then again on Sunday before the break. But
Red Sox management decided to give him an extra day off because of
an off-day; he isn't expected to start again until next Thursday,
giving him seven days of rest between starts."If it were up to me, I'd continue to pitch," he said. "But
it's not going to affect my work."Boston has been helped by the Oakland defense, which entered the
series leading the AL but committed two more errors -- and several
other misplays -- to go with the two on Tuesday night."We've got to get back to playing our game, which is pitching
and playing solid defense," manager Ken Macha said. "The defense
runs in streaks. But it will come back."Mark Redman (6-6) lost his third consecutive start. He allowed
six earned runs on nine hits and left trailing 7-3 with two on and
two outs in the third."Hopefully, the All-Star break will cool my bad streak off,"
Redman said.Damon had two more hits -- he had five on Tuesday -- and three
RBI, and Bill Mueller had three hits and scored twice for Boston.
Oddly, David Ortiz was hitless for the second consecutive night,
and fellow All-Star Ramirez has just one hit -- a mammoth homer to
lead off the seventh -- in the series.Bellhorn's solo homer gave Boston the lead in the first, and
Garciaparra led off the second with a homer to key a five-run
Damon fouled a ball off his knee in the third and needed
care from the trainer but remained in the game. ... Francona came
out to argue with plate umpire Ron Kulpa when Bellhorn appeared to
foul a ball off his foot in the fourth. But Kulpa ruled it a fair
ball and Bellhorn was out, first baseman unassisted. ...
Garciaparra's homer was his 500th career extra-base hit. ...
Damon's second-inning single was his 1,500th hit. ... Boston INF
Cesar Crespo accepted his assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket and was
expected to report immediately. Crespo was designated for
assignment last Friday to make room for the return of 3B Mueller.
... Byung-Hyun Kim allowed one run and two hits in 1 1-3 innings on
a rehab assignment at Triple-A. Ramiro Mendoza gave up one run and
five hits in 1 2-3 innings for Pawtucket.