Devil Rays 9, Red Sox 4

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Pedro Martinez is ready to put his September struggles behind him and it will be as Boston’s No. 2 starter in the postseason.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner lost his fourth straight start Wednesday night when the Red Sox fell 9-4 to Tampa Bay, but he said he’s confident he’ll rebound when the playoffs begin next week.

“I’m not concerned at all,” Martinez said after the loss damaged Boston’s slim chances of winning the AL East. “I would like the results to be better, but I’m healthy and I feel great. I just have to continue to pitch and work hard. Hopefully in the playoffs, it will be different.”

He also said he would like to re-sign with Boston rather than leave as a free agent this winter.

“There’s no need to go anywhere. I’m going to give them a chance,” Martinez said.

“I’m actually positive. I’m thinking I’m going to sign with Boston again. I just hope they don’t disrespect me or anything while we’re negotiating. That would be my turning point.”

The loss to the Devil Rays dropped the Red Sox, who already clinched a playoff berth, four games behind the New York Yankees in the division with four games remaining. The Yankees swept a doubleheader from Minnesota on Wednesday.

Martinez (16-9) said he has already been told by manager Terry Francona that he will start Game 2 of Boston’s opening playoff series.

He said he has no problem with 21-game winner Curt Schilling starting Game 1.

“He was the No. 1 pitcher from the get-go. He deserves to be the No. 1 starter,” Martinez said. “I actually should pitch like fifth, or maybe not even pitch in the playoffs, if I continue to pitch the way I have.”

Martinez lost to the Devil Rays for the second time in just over two weeks, allowing six runs and 10 hits in five innings. He’s also lost twice to the Yankees during his skid and has yielded 21 runs and 30 hits in 23 1-3 innings in four outings since he last won on Sept. 8.

“I just didn’t pitch. I didn’t make pitches,” Martinez said.

Francona insisted he’s not alarmed.

“I’ll be thrilled to give him the ball,” Francona said. “That’s the truth. I bet a lot of managers would love to say the same thing.”

Martinez threw 64 pitches in the first three innings and saved himself from an even earlier exit when he worked out of a jam after giving up singles to Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez and hitting Midre Cummings with a pitch to load the bases with no outs in the third.

The Devil Rays scored one in the first, three in the second and one in the fourth before going up 6-3 on Jorge Cantu’s sacrifice fly in the fifth. Tino Martinez added a three-run homer in the eighth off Alan Embree.

“I managed 10 years in Seattle, and we had some real good teams there,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. “My teams in Seattle never beat Pedro. Until two weeks ago, I had never managed a game where we had beat Pedro. Now we’ve beat him two in a row. How do you explain baseball?”

Doug Waechter (5-7) allowed three runs and five hits in five innings to get the victory. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up an RBI single to David Ortiz in the first, Bill Mueller’s sacrifice fly in the second and Trot Nixon’s solo homer in the fourth.

Carl Crawford hit his major league-leading 18th triple and scored Tampa Bay’s first run on shortstop Orlando Cabrera’s error, then Martinez allowed three runs in the second on Toby Hall’s RBI single, B.J. Upton’s run-scoring triple and Crawford’s sacrifice fly.

Nixon’s homer trimmed Boston’s deficit to 4-3 in the fourth, however the Devil Rays regained a two-run lead in the bottom half when Upton walked, stole second and scored when Boston center fielder Gabe Kapler misplayed Julio Lugo’s single for an error.

Adam Hyzdu’s solo homer off Lance Carter cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 6-4 in the eighth. Trevor Miller replaced Carter and pitched 1 2-3 innings for his first save.

Notes

Boston’s Manny Ramirez, who has a tender hamstring, doubled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He left the game for a pinch runner after walking in the fifth, finishing 1-for-2. … Tampa Bay CF Rocco Baldelli was given permission to miss Wednesday night’s game and Thursday’s doubleheader against Detroit to handle a family matter. … Boston CF Johnny Damon, who had six RBIs in the first two games of the series, had the night off. … Nixon has three homers in 17 games since coming off the disabled list Sept. 7.

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