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Starters are set

Page 2 of 2 -- After last night's victory, the Sox said Bronson Arroyo and Tim Wakefield would pitch Games 3 and 4 (if necessary), but did not say which pitcher would start which game.

Martinez was highly complimentary of Schilling when asked for his reaction to the news.

"Without a doubt, he deserves to be the No. 1 starter," Martinez said. "I hope he performs just like he has. You guys need to respect that guy. He's been better than Pedro Martinez and better than anyone on our team."

Schilling said he was honored to receive the start and pleased by Martinez's support.

"We both understand what's at stake," Schilling said. "It's a lot bigger than either one of our egos. It's a lot bigger than anybody's ego in this clubhouse. Hopefully everybody understands that."

The decision itself hardly seemed controversial since Schilling finished the season much stronger than Martinez, going 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA in September while Martinez went 2-4 with a 4.95 ERA in the month.

Martinez was so self-deprecating after losing in Tampa Bay, just five days after calling the Yankees his daddy (a remark he said he uttered in frustration and put behind him), that he said, "I should actually pitch No. 5 or not even pitch in the playoffs if I continue to pitch the way I have."

Francona dismissed any concern about Martinez.

"Do you think he sometimes kind of baits people a little bit?" Francona asked.

"Like rope-a-dope?" a reporter asked.

"Thank you," Francona said. "I guess my point is, he's going to get the ball in Game 2. I'm really OK with that. I mean really OK. What happened in Tampa Bay and [against] New York is going to be so far in the rearview mirror."

When he was pressed on why he maintained such confidence in Martinez, Francona said Martinez's career spoke for itself.

When he was further pressed, the manager said, "I would take his career over [making] one comment. The flip side is, I could come out and say, `He's had a couple of bad starts, so we're not going to start him.' That would go over good."

The bottom line, Francona said, is that "he's Pedro Martinez, he's had a couple of bad starts, we're going to pitch him in Game 2, and he's probably going to do really, really good. That's how I feel."

Schilling, who will open the Division Series on eight days' rest, has fared considerably better this year with additional rest. He has gone 8-4 with a 3.84 ERA on four days' rest and 13-2 with a 2.61 ERA on five days' rest or more. The only time this season he worked on eight days' rest, Schilling pitched a complete game July 3, scattering six hits and a walk in defeating the Braves, 6-1, in Atlanta.

"Pitching late in the season in a pennant race and going into the postseason is not about pitching well," he said. "It's about pitching great and playing great. If you don't step it up a little bit, you tend to go home earlier than other teams. That's one of the things I try to take a lot of pride in."

Schilling, in his final tuneup, threw in the bullpen and then pitched to Sox hitters before last night's game. He also is working with Craig Friedman, a trainer from the Athletes Performance Institute, and the Sox training staff to stay sharp.

"I feel phenomenal," he said. "We're going to do the little things we need to do. I'm comfortable and confident that I'll be [fine] on Tuesday." 

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