Red Sox 8, Athletics 3

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Pedro Martinez had prepared himself for a tense pitcher’s duel with Oakland ace Tim Hudson, then had to concentrate even more when it quickly turned into a blowout.

Martinez hardly had to outpitch the All-Star right-hander—Hudson staked Boston to a huge lead himself.

Martinez pitched six innings of two-hit ball to win his third straight start, and the surging Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of the Athletics with an 8-3 win Wednesday night.

“I don’t think about Hudson. I think about my team and how hard they’re going to make it for him,” Martinez said. “We’re ready to play anybody at any time right now. We’re hot and we’re rolling. Anybody who stands in front of us will have a hard time.”

Boston, which has won four straight, 14 of 15 and 26 of 31, pulled within two games of the first-place New York Yankees for the first time since before play on June 3. New York’s doubleheader against Tampa Bay was postponed because of rain.

Despite their first four-game losing streak since early July, the AL West-leading A’s maintained a 1 1/2 -game division lead over the Anaheim Angels, who lost 1-0 at home to Toronto.

Martinez (16-5) improved to 5-1 with a 1.25 ERA in seven regular-season starts in the Coliseum, and Hudson lost for the first time in 10 home starts this year. He lasted only three innings, allowing seven runs, six hits and a season-high five walks.

David Ortiz hit a two-run single in the first for Boston, which is 8-1 this year against Oakland, the team it beat in last season’s division series.

The A’s loaded the bases against Terry Adams with three straight two-out singles in the ninth, then Bobby Kielty drew a full-count walk to force in a run. Keith Foulke, Oakland’s closer last season, entered and got Billy McMillon to line out for the final out and his 28th save in 33 chances.

The Red Sox again showed their improved defense: First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz made an impressive backhanded diving catch in foul territory and flipped the ball to Martinez for an out on Adam Melhuse’s sharp grounder in the third.

Martinez pointed to Mientkiewicz afterward to acknowledge the play. After allowing a leadoff walk to Mark Kotsay, Martinez retired seven straight—three on strikeouts—then gave up a single to Marco Scutaro and another walk to Kotsay. After that, Martinez got seven more outs in a row.

He’s confident in Boston’s chances if there’s another first-round meeting.

“They got us two games to nothing and we came back and beat them, so get used to it,” he said of the 2003 division series.

Hudson (11-5) saw his season-high four-start winning streak end in frustrating fashion. He began the game with three full-count walks—he hadn’t allowed more than two in a game since coming off the disabled list with a strained stomach muscle Aug. 7.

“I just didn’t make any pitches,” Hudson said. “They were patient with me and I was missing early. … We’re just setting them up for the playoffs—make them think I’m terrible.”

It took him 26 pitches to get his first out and 38 to finish the inning. He matched his season-high with four walks in the first inning. He even plunked Jason Varitek in the right knee leading off the third.

Manager Ken Macha said before the game Hudson “is the guy who can go out there and absolutely dominate.” That wasn’t true this time.

“Start off the game by walking three guys, I don’t think that’s ever happened,” Macha said. “That’s a tough start. Huddy was fired up. Maybe he was overthrowing again.”

The Red Sox reached base 15 times the first three innings, and Hudson put on a jacket and quickly escaped to the clubhouse after the third. Chris Hammond came out to start the fourth.

Hudson also lost his lone other meeting with the Red Sox this season, allowing five earned runs in four innings May 25 at Fenway Park in a 12-2 A’s loss.

“I think that’s twice,” Foulke said of Hudson’s struggles against the Sox. “I’ve seen that guy pitch and I’ve never seen that happen.”

Martinez hasn’t allowed a run in 16 innings. The win was his 117th with the Red Sox, tying him with Smoky Joe Wood for fifth place in club history.

Jason Varitek’s RBI single in the first extended his season-best hitting streak to 14 games. Johnny Damon hit an RBI single in the Red Sox’s three-run third to give him an 11-game hitting streak.

Kielty hit a two-run double in the eighth for Oakland.


Martinez improved to 12-2 over his last 20 starts. … Damon has scored a run in 11 straight games, three shy of his career-best of 14 consecutive games with a run scored from Aug. 5-19, 2000, with Kansas City. The 11 games ties him with Philadelphia’s Bobby Abreu and Jim Edmonds of St. Louis for the longest in the AL this year. Houston’s Carlos Beltran went 15 straight games with a run scored, but that ended Wednesday. … RHP Pedro Astacio and C Sandy Martinez made their Red Sox debuts. It was also Astacio’s major league debut.

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