Devil Rays 5, Red Sox 2
BOSTON (AP)—Scott Kazmir had a cool confidence in a tough environment for baseball’s youngest pitcher and a sense of wonder that he had succeeded in it.
“I don’t even know how to explain it. I want to,” said the left-hander, who began the season in Class A. “Wow. It’s been a crazy year.”
Kazmir (2-1) allowed three hits and three walks against the highest-scoring team in baseball to defeat Martinez, who had been 9-1 at Fenway Park.
“He did himself proud,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “Not only Fenway, but against a really good Red Sox team, against a legend out there in Pedro. It’s impressive.”
The Red Sox absorbed consecutive losses for the first time in more than five weeks and had a season-high 16 straight shutout innings before Trot Nixon hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth off Travis Harper.
Boston dropped four games behind the AL East-leading Yankees, its largest deficit since before play on Aug. 31. The Red Sox, who start a three-game series in New York on Friday, had not lost back-to-back games since Aug. 4 at Tampa Bay and Aug. 6 at Detroit.
“It’s not disappointing,” Nixon said of the setbacks. “There’s nothing guaranteed in this game.”
The Red Sox are 16-4 in their last 20 games with three of the losses against rookie pitchers they’d never faced before.
“I figured it would be tough because the Red Sox had never seen Kazmir and he’s a left-hander,” said Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford, who led off the game with a homer. “Against Pedro, you know it’s going to be hard to get runs so it’s nice to start the game with a homer.”
“Hopefully, we won’t have to face another rookie,” said Martinez, who allowed just three hits in six innings, two of them solo homers by Crawford and Rocco Baldelli. But he walked five batters for just the 11th time in his career.
Kazmir, a highly regarded prospect acquired from the New York Mets on July 30 for Victor Zambrano, doesn’t turn 21 until Jan. 24. He made his fourth major league start Tuesday and struck five straight batters in one stretch.
“In the fifth inning, I’m taking warmup pitches and I stopped and said, `is this really happening? Am I really pitching against Pedro at Fenway?”’ said Kazmir, a Houston high schooler when he was taken with the 15th draft pick in 2002.
Danys Baez pitched the ninth for his 16th straight save and 27th in 29 chances.
Martinez (16-6) struck out 10 and allowed three hits.
“It’s a great outing,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He gave up two homers, but nobody was on base.”
The Devil Rays won their third straight game after losing 12 in a row, but it was a disappointing homecoming for the Red Sox. They were 5-2 on the trip that ended Sunday with a 2-0 loss at Seattle and began with a three-game sweep in Oakland.
Martinez struggled in the first inning, allowing Crawford’s ninth homer of the year and walks to Julio Lugo and Aubrey Huff before retiring a batter. He gave up just two hits the rest of the way: Baldelli’s 13th homer in the third and Toby Hall’s single in the sixth.
Boston has been shut out just three times this year. … Youkilis took over in the fifth at third base from Mueller, who left with a sore right knee. … Boston’s Mark Bellhorn was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. Tampa Bay’s Jose Cruz Jr. was 1-for-5 with four strikeouts.