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Thrown aside

Pettitte, Yankees strong-arm Sox as Martinez falters

Running baseball teams for nearly a quarter-century has convinced Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino to emblazon one overriding principle in his formula for success.

"You need pitching, pitching, and more pitching," Lucchino has said from Day 1 of spring training.

What he got yesterday was something else altogether. While his widely feared offense continued to rip apart opposing pitchers like so much confetti, several of Lucchino's hurlers, including the pep-less Pedro Martinez, served as little more than party favors for the Yankees, who romped to a 10-7 victory before 34,350 at Fenway Park.

Dashing their fandom's wildest fantasies of sweeping three straight from the Steinbrenner Nine and surging back to the threshold of supremacy in the American League East, Martinez and two successors -- Alan Embree and Byung Hyun Kim -- inadvertently conspired to undermine the best efforts of the unrelenting Sox offense.

Embree let an inherited runner score and gave up two runs of his own in the eighth inning to help the Yankees seize an ultimately insurmountable 8-4 advantage and regain their 4 1/2-game division lead while the Sox fell a half-game behind the Mariners in the wild-card derby.

Embree ripped his effort in postgame comments, and Martinez might have said the same as Embree if he said anything at all publicly, which he didn't. And Kim might have echoed Embree as well if his English were sharp enough.

Instead, Kim, who gave up a back-breaking two-run blast to Jorge Posada in the ninth inning, suggested his breathing techniques went awry, possibly throwing him off rhythm and his breaking ball out of whack.

"I didn't have a good breaking ball today," he said through interpreter Chang Lee.

Worse, Martinez didn't have much of anything as he apparently continued to suffer the aftereffects of the severe throat inflammation he endured last week. In his shortest outing of the season not involving an injury-related pitch count, Martinez lasted only four innings, surrendering five earned runs to the Yankees in a start for the first time in his career.

On the day the Sox needed their ace to rise up, he stumbled, falling to 8-8 lifetime against the Yankees while he is 86-15 against the rest of the American League. He departed trailing, 5-4, after throwing 87 pitches through four.

"It was a struggle from the time he started," catcher Jason Varitek said. "Obviously, he was not very sharp, and he didn't get away with anything. Any mistake got hit."

Struggling to hit 90 miles an hour with his fastball, Martinez tried to survive on a steady diet of curveballs, changeups, and cut fastballs. But the Yankees smacked him around for two runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth.

"He wasn't a hundred percent out there," manager Grady Little said. "He's still a little bit affected by the sickness he had last week and it caught up with him pretty good there about the fourth inning."

Fatigued, Martinez gave way to long reliever Bronson Arroyo, who pitched sensationally for 3 1/3 innings to keep the Sox in contention, still trailing, 5-4, in the eighth. Enter Embree, who generally had been spectacular in August, allowing one run in 13 appearances.

"Bronson did an outstanding job out there," Little said, "but we were at the point in the game where these other guys, Embree and Kim, that's their part of the game. It was just a matter of not executing a couple of pitches."

With two outs and Aaron Boone on second base, Embree said he worried too much about Boone and misplaced a pitch to Enrique Wilson, who rifled a single to right field to make it 6-4.

Derek Jeter then launched a ground-rule double to right before Embree made another mistake to Nick Johnson, who laced a two-run single to left, putting the Sox in the 8-4 hole.

"If I make those pitches, we walk off and we win that game," Embree said. "It's frustrating that we lost because of what it means to the fans and our team, but the bottom line is we have to be four games better than the Yankees in September. I'm not going to lose sleep over it."

The shame of it was, the Sox had a chance to outlast Andy Pettitte, who improved to 13-4 in his career against them, when they waged a rousing comeback attempt in the bottom of the eighth after the latest screening of the "Rally Karaoke Guy" video. After reliever Jeff Nelson failed to retire any of the four batters he faced to start the inning, he gave way to closer Mariano Rivera, who surrendered a two-run double to pinch hitter David McCarty, making it 8-6. Lou Merloni and Johnny Damon, who survived a nasty outfield collision with Gabe Kapler earlier in the game, then drew walks off Rivera to force in another run.

But when the Sox handed the ball to Kim in the ninth, he let the Yanks pull away again, leaving it to knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to help deprive Roger Clemens of his 100th career victory at Fenway today and keep hope alive in the Hub for a division title.

"We're in this," Varitek said. "We're right where we want to be. We're standing there fighting, so we'll go get them [today]."

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