NEW YORK -- It wasn't the eighth inning of a Game 7 in Yankee Stadium with the Sox clinging to a lead, but it was close.
Pedro Martinez, who had started Games 2 and 5 of the American League Championship Series, was on the mound again last night in relief of Derek Lowe in the same stadium where he was left in for one inning too long in Boston's loss to the Yankees last year.
This time, Boston had an 8-1 lead and Lowe had been dominant in his start. But as Lowe was setting the Yankees down in order in the sixth, Martinez was warming up.
"Once we got Pedro throwing, we were going to use him," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "There was no going back."
Martinez allowed consecutive doubles to Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams to start the inning but worked out of the jam allowing only one more hit, an RBI single by Kenny Lofton.
Martinez struck out pinch hitter John Olerud, who homered off him in Game 2 here, then got Miguel Cairo out on a curving line drive to right that Trot Nixon got near the wall.
"I'm glad I was able to do something to help," Martinez said after providing an extra arm for the Sox bullpen, which had been extended through this series. Mike Timlin pitched the eighth and into the ninth, with Alan Embree getting the final out to preserve the win and the American League pennant.
"It was so good to see D-Lowe have a good game," said Martinez, who alternated among holding court, squirting champagne, and posing with the American League trophy in the clubhouse.
That Martinez would pitch again in the series seemed unlikely when he left Fenway Park in the early hours of Tuesday morning. After all, Boston still trailed the Yankees, 3-2, and of all the teams that had fallen behind, 3-0, none had forced a deciding Game 7.
"I'm an optimist," he said then with a smile.
Last night, Martinez still had a smile but with a little extra bit of focus as he walked to the clubhouse after a brief throwing session.
"I can't believe it," he said of the Sox' rally to force a seventh game in the ALCS for the second consecutive year.
But because they did, he was in a position to help the Sox do whatever it would take to make the World Series.
His cameo on the mound was another twist in his recent history against the Yankees. It was in September when he termed the Yankees his "daddy" after another tough loss to the Bombers.
When he started Game 2 to chants of "Who's your daddy" at the Stadium, it didn't look like he would be back. He pitched six innings, throwing 113 pitches, but a two-run homer by Olerud put him on the losing end of a 3-1 game and the Sox trailed the series, 2-0. With Curt Schilling hurting, there was little cause for optimism.
The chants were back last night. And while Martinez wasn't perfect, his team was a winner and he will pitch one more series for the Sox.
"I'm just so happy," said Martinez, who will be a free agent after the Series.
But there is unfinished business before that.