Red Sox Move 2 1/2 Games Ahead of Mariners
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Pedro Martinez struck out 11 in seven shutout innings Sunday, keeping Boston in charge of the AL wild-card race as the Red Sox beat Cleveland 2-0 in the Indians’ season finale at home.
Boston moved 2 1/2 games ahead of Seattle for the wild card; the Mariners lost 12-0 at Oakland later Sunday.
Martinez (14-4) allowed four hits in winning his fourth straight start in September. The right-hander’s strong outing came one after starter Derek Lowe and Boston’s bullpen couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning and lost 13-4 to the Indians.
Martinez walked two and raised his season strikeout total to 204. It wasn’t the first time he has shut down the Indians _ he improved to 10-1 with a 1.66 ERA in 14 career starts against Cleveland, and 5-0 in six starts at Jacobs Field.
And Boston’s unpredictable bullpen had a relatively easy day, too.
Mike Timlin worked a hitless eighth and Byung-Hyun Kim pitched the ninth for his 15th save.
Manny Ramirez hit an RBI double in Boston’s two-run second off Indians rookie left-hander Cliff Lee (3-2), who nearly matched Martinez pitch for pitch.
Lee allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings.
Cleveland’s best scoring threat off Martinez came in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases.
Martinez walked Ben Broussard with one out, and Victor Martinez singled. Travis Hafner hit a fly ball deep enough to center to move Broussard to third and pinch-hitter Josh Bard drew a walk.
But after falling behind 2-0 to pinch-hitter Angel Santos, Martinez battled back and struck him out.
The Red Sox were closer to full strength than they had been in nearly a week. Johnny Damon returned to the lineup after missing four games with an abdominal strain, and Bill Mueller was back after sitting two out with back spasms.
Ramirez, booed every time he came to the plate during the series by Indians fans who haven’t forgiven him for leaving as a free agent, put the Red Sox up 1-0 with his double in the fourth.
Lee hit Todd Walker to open the inning and Ramirez followed with a shot off the wall in left-center. Shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s wild relay throw home got by catcher Victor Martinez, and when Lee didn’t back up the plate, Ramirez went to third.
Kevin Millar brought Ramirez in with an RBI groundout.
Notes: Martinez has 93 career double-digit strikeout games. Sixty-six of those with the Red Sox, two shy of Roger Clemens’ club record. Martinez has recorded at least 200 strikeouts in a season seven times. ... Boston 1B/DH David Ortiz, who came in batting .143 (2-for-14) in his last four games, was not in the starting lineup. ``I’ve seen him pressing the day or two,″ manager Grady Little said. ... The Indians finished 38-43 at home, their worst home record since going 35-46 at old Cleveland Stadium in 1987. It’s the second straight year they’ve been under .500 at home. The last time they did that was in 1973-74.