With an eerie similarity to last year's postseason debacle, Pedro Martinez took a lead into the eighth inning before tiring and the New York Yankees rallied past Boston, 6-4, last night at Fenway Park to open a 51/2-game advantage in the AL East.
Grady Little was the Red Sox' manager last fall when he left Martinez in during the eighth inning of Game 7 in the AL Championship Series; the Yankees overcame a 5-2 deficit to tie it and earned a World Series berth when Aaron Boone homered in the 11th.
Little was let go after the season and replaced by Terry Francona. But Francona, much as his predecessor did, sent Martinez (16-8) back out for the eighth despite needing 101 pitches to get through the first seven innings.
Hideki Matsui homered on pitch No. 103 to make it 4-4, and Bernie Williams followed with a ground-rule double. Martinez struck out Jorge Posada, who hit the game-tying double off the Red Sox ace in the ALCS, but Ruben Sierra singled home the go-ahead run, chasing Martinez.
Matsui added an RBI double in the ninth -- his third hit of the game.
Tom Gordon (8-4) pitched two innings and allowed a solo homer to Johnny Damon that gave Boston a 4-3 lead. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 51st save.
Manny Ramirez hit his AL-leading 42nd homer and Trot Nixon also connected for Boston.
Ramirez and David Ortiz (40) have tied the record for homers by Red Sox teammates with 82. In 1949, Ted Williams hit 43 and Vern Stephens hit 39.
* ATHLETICS 6, ANGELS 3: Rich Harden (11-6) yielded just two runs and four hits in seven innings for his eighth win in nine decisions and Eric Byrnes hit a two-run homer to help visiting Oakland stretch its lead to three games over Anaheim and Texas in the AL West.
* MARINERS 8, RANGERS 7: Ichiro Suzuki had two more hits to move within eight of George Sisler's major league record, and Randy Winn's infield single in the ninth helped visiting Seattle end Texas's five-game winning streak.
Seattle's Raul Ibanez had four hits in four at-bats, giving him nine straight hits to set the club record.
* TWINS 8, INDIANS 2: In Cleveland, Johan Santana became the second 20-game winner in the majors, joining Boston's Curt Schilling, with his 13th consecutive victory.
Santana (20-6) set a Minnesota record for strikeouts in a season, though his 33-inning scoreless streak was snapped. He allowed a run and two hits in six innings, striking out six to put his AL-leading total at 260. He is 13-0 with a 1.18 ERA in 14 starts since the all-star break.
* DEVIL RAYS 4, BLUE JAYS 2: In St. Petersburg, Fla., Aubrey Huff hit his 29th homer and Mark Hendrickson (10-15) held Toronto to two runs over seven innings.
* ROYALS 8, WHITE SOX 6: John Buck homered twice to power visiting Kansas City. Carlos Lee 28th homer gave Chicago a franchise-record 221 home runs for the season, breaking last year's mark of 220.