NEW YORK—Pedro Martinez has a new “Daddy.” His name is Jon Lieber.
While the raucous crowd at Yankee Stadium taunted Martinez with booming chants of “Who’s Your Daddy?” Lieber shut down the highest-scoring offense in Major League Baseball.
A No. 5 starter pitching against a three-time Cy Young Award winner, Lieber took a shutout into the eighth inning. John Olerud backed him with a two-run homer in the sixth off the tiring Martinez, and the Yankees beat the Red Sox 3-1 Wednesday night for a 2-0 lead in their American League Championship Series rematch.
After Orlando Cabrera singled leading off the third inning for Boston’s first hit, Lieber retired 13 straight batters before David Ortiz singled in the seventh.
Lieber needed just 45 pitches to get through five innings—Martinez threw 46 in just the first two innings. Lieber’s biggest thorn was leadoff man Johnny Damon, who kept fouling balls off before lining to center in a 16-pitch at-bat with one out in the sixth.
After Trot Nixon singled leading off the eighth, Tom Gordon came in and allowed Jason Varitek’s double and Cabrera’s RBI grounder.
Mariano Rivera entered with a runner on third and two outs in the eighth, just as he did Tuesday night when he jetted back from a family funeral in Panama to preserve New York’s opening win.
Rivera shattered Damon’s bat on a foul ball, threw a called third strike past him to escape trouble, then finished for his second straight save and 32nd in postseason play.
After a day off, the series resumes Saturday at Fenway Park, with Kevin Brown pitching for the Yankees against Bronson Arroyo. Boston headed home unsure of the status of ace Curt Schilling, whose ailing right ankle might prevent him from starting Game 5 if it’s needed.
Cardinals 10, Astros 7
In a slugfest in St. Louis, Albert Pujols homered early, Larry Walker delivered three key hits and the St. Louis Cardinals withstood four Houston shots to outlast the Astros 10-7 Wednesday night in Game 1 of the National League championship series.
Slumping Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds also contributed, and winning pitcher Woody Williams even helped out with a big double for the league’s top-hitting team.
Together, that was enough—barely—to withstand homers by Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, Jeff Kent and Mike Lamb.
And it was a significant victory: The last 11 teams to win the opener of the NLCS have gone on to reach the World Series.
No one predicted that pitchers would rule in this series, and it was an accurate call.
In October when the ball is flying, the Cardinals and Astros took turns whacking shots all over Busch Stadium, with Walker finishing a home run shy of becoming the first player in postseason history to hit for the cycle.
Now, unheralded Pete Munro gets his chance to try to slow down the team that led the majors with 105 victories. A guy who started the season in the minors with Minnesota, Munro will start Game 2 for Houston against 15-game winner Matt Morris on Thursday night.
For sure, Houston manager Phil Garner will find himself watching The Weather Channel overnight. The forecast is for showers, and the Astros would certainly welcome it. A rainout would allow them to bring back ace Roger Clemens in Game 2.
Edmonds’ three-run double capped a six-run burst in the sixth that put St. Louis ahead 10-4. Chad Qualls wound up as the losing pitcher, in relief of Brandon Backe.
Jason Isringhausen got the final out for a save.
In last year’s series, the teams split the first two games in New York. The pattern this year resembles 1999, when the Yankees won the first two games at home and took the series 4-1.
Back on the mound where he had a meltdown in the eighth inning of last year’s Game 7, Martinez once again tired against the team that frustrates him most. After a September 24 loss the Yankees at Fenway Park, he uttered the bizarre sentence: “What can I say—just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy. I can’t find a way to beat them at this point.”
Pitching just a few miles from where Big Daddy and Daddy Warbucks became famous names on Broadway, he dropped to 1-2 against the Yankees in postseason play. During the regular season, Martinez is 10-10 against New York and 172-66 against the rest of baseball.
New York, which took a 2-0 lead against Martinez after four pitches in his previous outing at Yankee Stadium last month, went ahead after 10 this time.
After the crowd chanted during his warm-ups, Martinez walked Derek Jeter on four pitches and threw a breaking ball out of the strike zone as Jeter stole second, prompting Cabrera, the shortstop, to come to the mound for a few words.
Martinez nicked Alex Rodriguez on the hand with the count 2-2, and Gary Sheffield singled to center on the next pitch, with Jeter scoring easily ahead of Damon’s weak throw.
That was all the Yankees got then, with Martinez recovering to throw called third strikes past Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams before retiring Jorge Posada on a grounder.
Martinez was still throwing 95 mph pitches in the fifth inning, but he tired in the sixth, when he walked Posada with one out. He got ahead 1-2 in the count against Olerud, who was signed August 3 for the discount price of $100,000 after Seattle released him from a $7.7 million deal. Olerud sent a high pitch—Martinez’s 106th—over the middle of the plate just over the right-field wall for the ninth postseason homer of his career.