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Yankees Take 2-0 ALCS Lead

Lieber Bests Martinez, Olerud Hits 2-Run HR: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 14, 2004; Page D01

NEW YORK, Oct. 13 -- Pedro Martinez's traipse from the bullpen to the dugout prior to his start on Wednesday appeared to span continents and last days. It was a crawl across a vast and expansive outfield, and for a moment it appeared Martinez was alone in his thoughts. It was only moments before New York Yankees fans shattered his facade of solitude with a steady stream of jeers.

"Who's your daddy?" they chanted, a phrase that has followed Martinez since a Sept. 24 loss to the Yankees that had compelled him to say, "I can't find a way to beat them at this point. What can I say? I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."

Boston's Johnny Damon shatters his bat on a pitch from Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the eighth inning. Rivera finishes a 3-1 victory over Boston in Game 2 to give the Yankees a 2-0 series lead. (Julie Jacobson - AP)

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Martinez, who came up on the wrong end of a decision in Boston's 3-1 loss to New York in Game 2 that put the Red Sox in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, for a few sweet minutes after the game basked in the glow of how he got to this point. He remembered himself as a poor child from the Dominican Republic, who would sit under a mango tree without a cent in his pockets. And now he had brought New York, the grandest, loudest city, to a complete halt.

"I actually realized I was somebody important," Martinez said in a stirring postgame news conference. "I got the attention of 60,000 people. Today I was the center of attention of the whole city of New York."

But Martinez could not escape the chorus and perhaps the reality that he cannot handle the Yankees. Martinez failed to beat the Yankees on a night when he allowed just three runs in six innings, at times looking dominant, blowing his 96-mph fastball past hitters.

"When will I get the support, I don't know," Martinez said. "I'm not going to ask that question."

He had allowed just one run through the first five innings, before a two-run homer by John Olerud in the sixth provided a three-run cushion. Olerud's homer, on a 1-2 changeup, just got into the bleachers in Yankee Stadium's short right field.

"In that situation I've got two strikes against me and against Pedro that's a bad position to be in," Olerud said. "I'm trying to protect the plate and just get the bat on the ball."

Fans had come to Yankee Stadium to jeer Martinez, but ended up serenading Jon Lieber, a journeyman pitcher who had spent most of his career on losing teams and was participating in his first postseason.

Lieber, who allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings, turned the mighty Red Sox lineup soft.

"I'm sure it meant a lot to him," Derek Jeter said. "He's waited a long time."

The top three hitters of Boston's lineup, a group that helped the Red Sox score a major league-best 949 runs, has floundered in the ALCS. The three, Johnny Damon, Mark Bellhorn and Manny Ramirez, have combined for just three hits in 24 at-bats with nine strikeouts.

"I've got to get my game going," said Damon, who is 0 for 8 in the series with five strikeouts. "I'm better than that. They know a good way to beat our team is to stop me."

Mariano Rivera, for the second consecutive night, entered the game in the eighth inning and emerged with a save. Boston, the decided favorite in this series according to oddsmakers, is in a deep hole.

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