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"And we're starting to do that."
Martinez encountered one significant bump all evening -- a 32-pitch third inning in which the A's scored all of their runs -- but then allowed just two more hits before turning the game over to the bullpen after seven innings and 102 pitches. Martinez walked one and struck out seven and basked in the warmth of a standing ovation from a crowd of 35,012.
It was his farewell appearance before he travels -- not to Houston, and a game against the National League All-Stars, but home to the Dominican Republic, a trip that should hardly spark the controversy last year's early (and excused) departure precipitated.
Martinez said he intends to go home for just a day, then fly to Anaheim, Calif., where he innocently revealed Francona's closed hand and said he expects to pitch the second game after the break. Francona has said he didn't want to announce his pitching plans until after Schilling goes tonight, but it would appear likely that Schilling will take the ball in the first game after the break, Thursday against the Angels.
"Going into the second half, thanks to God, I haven't missed a start yet," Martinez said. "I feel great. We're getting ready to pick it up in the second half and see what we can do."
Manny Ramirez, who merely needs to maintain his first-half pace to put up monster numbers, homered over the Coke bottles on the first pitch thrown by reliever Chad Bradford in the seventh. Thirty-four times this season, Ramirez has been the first batter faced by a new pitcher. On those occasions, he is 13 for 29 (.448) with four home runs, four walks, and a hit by pitch.
It was another night when the Sox' lineup, which had failed to produce while being swept by the Yankees and dropping two of three to the Braves, appeared devoid of soft touches. Indeed, every starter had at least one hit with the surprising exception of David Ortiz, who for much of this season has carried the club.
Ortiz was hitless in five at-bats and is now 0 for his last 18.
Garciaparra, on the receiving end of some of the harshest criticism of his career after missing the last game of the Yankee series, continued his torrid hitting. He added a double to the third home run of his abbreviated season and is now batting .500 (11 for 22) in his last five games.
The Sox, now a game behind the A's in the wild-card race and six behind the Yankees in the AL East, broke it open after Garciaparra's home run in the second. Kevin Millar drew a walk, advanced to second alertly on a wild pitch, and scored when Varitek, trying to move the runner over, scratched a double past first baseman Scott Hatteberg. Mueller followed with a base hit, Varitek stopping at third, and after Kapler popped out, Damon shot a ground-ball single through the left side, scoring Varitek. Two more runs scored when A's third baseman Mark McLemore threw away Bellhorn's infield hit.
Doubles by Marco Scutaro and Hatteberg were the big hits in the A's third, which also featured Ramirez kicking Hatteberg's hit soccer-style into center field for an extra base, but Martinez struck out Jermaine Dye to end the inning and was unruffled thereafter.
Mueller's two-out single scored Garciaparra in the third, and his double started a two-run sixth.
"We ran into a team that's incredibly hot," Hatteberg said. "They're firing on all cylinders."
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.