Martinez tires after too many pitches

NEW YORK -- The Boston Red Sox wanted Pedro Martinez on the
mound for the big game.

They held him back so he would be rested. They left him in when
he struggled, knowing he was still their best hope.

And when he pitched out of a seventh-inning jam to protect a 5-2
lead, it looked as though Martinez had delivered another playoff
clincher for the Red Sox.

The big mistake was letting him come back out in the eighth.

Martinez ran out of gas after 123 high-pressure pitches on
Thursday night, allowing four consecutive hits as the Yankees
scored three runs that inning to tie Game 7 of the AL championship
series and eventually won it 6-5 in 11 innings.

In another stadium on the other side of the city, 17 years ago,
the Red Sox lost another chance at a championship. Manager John
McNamara took Roger Clemens out after seven innings in Game 6 of
the World Series, the Boston bullpen imploded and Bill Bucker's
black hightops became a part of baseball history.

The New York Mets won the Series, and the Red Sox haven't been
back since.

This time, a Boston manager left his ace in too long.

Martinez cruised through the first six innings before giving up
Jason Giambi's solo homer with two outs in the seventh. He gave up
two more singles but then struck out Alfonso Soriano to end the

David Ortiz hit a solo homer in the eighth to give Boston a 5-2

Back in Boston, workers had already painted the World Series
logo on the grass at Fenway Park. Fans were lining up outside to
buy Series tickets, confident that nine decades of Red Sox futility
was coming to an end.

With Boston five outs away from finally beating the Yankees,
Derek Jeter doubled with one out and scored on Bernie Williams'
single. Hideki Matsui hit a line drive down the right-field line,
and a fan touched the ball for a ground-rule double that put the
runners at second and third.

Boston manager Grady Little came out to talk to Martinez, and it
seemed as if the three-time Cy Young Award winner had done his job
for the day. But Little left his ace in and Posada's looper landed
in front of center fielder Johnny Damon as the runners came around
to score and Yankee Stadium erupted in cheers.

It stayed that way until the 11th, when Aaron Boone hit the
first pitch he saw from Tim Wakefield into the left-field stands to
end Boston's hopes for its first World Series title since 1918.