Stylish victory for Sox
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After Martinez flummoxed the Padres for eight innings -- he threw 115 pitches in lowering his ERA to 3.98 from 4.40 -- Keith Foulke retired them in order in the ninth for his 12th save.
Martinez's numbers were nearly as impressive April 25, when he blanked the Yankees on four hits and a walk for seven innings in a 2-0 victory. But he seemed more dominant against the Padres, capitalizing on some minor corrections he made in his delivery by studying videotape and working with pitching coach Dave Wallace.
Martinez refined the landing on his delivery, improving his arm slot for his fastball and curveball. Catcher Jason Varitek said the difference was evident.
"With the stuff he threw out there, they had a limited margin for success," Varitek said. "When he needed to make a pitch, he was extremely good."
Martinez, who also benefited from dandy defensive plays by Damon and second baseman Mark Bellhorn, faced his toughest challenge in the fifth inning after Long doubled into the right-field corner leading off. Long advanced to third when Ramon Hernandez flied to right, creating a prime scoring opportunity for the Padres with one out.
At that, the Sox drew the infield in, which allowed Bellhorn to hold Long at third when Kerry Robinson grounded out. Martinez then escaped by getting Khalil Greene flailing at a 94-mile-an-hour heater en route to retiring the last 12 batters he faced.
But even in flashing some of his vintage brilliance, Martinez seemed unsatisfied.
"It seems like it was a great game," he said. "It was a game anybody could dream of. But you know what? I'm not going to sit on this one. I'm going to go and watch my videos, go back to the bullpen and do the things I have been doing to get better."
Martinez needed to be at his best since San Diego starter David Wells held the Sox scoreless for 5 2/3 innings, scattering six hits, walking none and striking out two. But the Sox capitalized against the San Diego pen, with Kapler doubling off former Yankee Antonio Osuna and Damon doing his damage against Akinori Otsuka.
The Padres summoned Otsuka, who was holding opponents to a .144 batting average and had struck out 34 batters in 28 1/3 innings, specifically to face Damon. But Damon, who leads the Sox with a .351 batting average with runners in scoring position, delivered again.
"Last year, I was the weak link on the team," he said. "I'm just trying to pull my weight."
Caveman-style or not.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.