The Boston Red Sox wanted Victor Martinez because he could help them at first base, catcher and designated hitter.
He’s turned out to be a pretty good pinch-hitter, too.
Martinez came off the bench and hit a three-run double to break a seventh-inning tie, leading the Red Sox to a 7-5 victory over Baltimore on Wednesday night. It was his second pinch-hitting appearance since coming to Boston at the trading deadline; he is 2 for 2 with four RBIs.
Article continues below ...
“I think he enjoys that situation, for sure,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think he’d rather have been starting, but it’s nice on nights that he hasn’t started, that he’s sitting there ready to hit.”
Billy Wagner (1-0) pitched a perfect seventh inning, striking out two, for his first win in more than two years and the first AL decision of his career. Jonathan Papelbon got four outs for his 35th save, giving up one run but keeping the Red Sox two games up in the AL wild-card race over Texas, a 10-0 winner over Cleveland.
Nick Markakis had three of Baltimore’s 12 hits, but the Orioles stranded 12 baserunners.
“We had the same opportunities,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “It didn’t happen for us. It happened for them.”
Martinez split his time at catcher and first base with Cleveland, but the three-time All-Star was rarely out of the lineup over the first 7 1/2 years of his career. He was 9 for 25 with the Indians as a pinch-hitter, never getting much more than a handful of at-bats in a season.
He has been in a rotation with Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and David Oritz since coming to Boston, but Martinez has made it difficult for Francona to leave him out of the lineup. His other pinch-hitting appearance for the Red Sox, on Aug. 25, he hit a game-tying single in the seventh against Chicago and then doubled in the eighth for an insurance run.
“Every time I come to the plate, my goal is to be a tough out,” said Martinez, who said he enjoyed being in a pennant race while the Indians struggle. “When you’re in a race, it’s always interesting. When you get to the ballpark, you know you’re playing for something.”
Jason Bay had three hits for Boston, which is 13-2 against the Orioles this season.
Matt Albers (2-5) faced three batters, giving up two hits, including Dustin Pedroia‘s comebacker that bounced off Albers’ leg toward third base for a game-tying single.
Brian Roberts doubled in the fifth inning to become the fourth player in major league history to have three seasons with at least 50 doubles. Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Paul Waner and Stan Musial are the others.
“It’s probably one of the only things that I’ll be in that company for,” said Roberts, who is the third second baseman with consecutive seasons with 50 doubles. “I had about 30 games. I figured I’d could dink one in there at some point. A lot of my friends have been grinding me pretty good lately.”
Roberts drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth to tie the game before Felix Pie singled up the middle to give Baltimore its only lead, 4-3.
In the seventh, Kevin Youkilis and Bay singled, then Lowell walked to load the bases. Martinez lined a double to left-center and Brian Anderson, who ran for the gimpy Lowell, raced around from first to score and give Boston a 7-4 lead.
Paul Byrd, who allowed seven runs in 2 1-3 innings against the Chicago White Sox in his previous start, gave up two runs in five innings Wednesday night.
Bay had a two-run single in the first inning, giving him 100 RBIs to go with his 30 homers. He’s the fifth Red Sox left fielder to reach that milestone, joining Manny Ramirez and Hall of Famers Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams.
The teams combined to use 13 pitchers. … Baltimore’s Luke Scott was 0 for 16 before his fourth-inning double. … One day after hitting six homers, the Red Sox had just two extra-base hits, Martinez’s three-run double and an RBI double by Jason Varitek. … The Red Sox had two runners thrown out at the plate. … Red Sox RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka made a rehab start in Single-A Salem of the Carolina League in a playoff game against Winston-Salem, going 6 2-3 innings and allowing one run, three hits and a walk, striking out seven. … The Orioles acquired LHP Sean Henn from Minnesota for a player to be named or cash. To make room on the roster, they moved OF Adam Jones to the 60-day DL.