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Bosox pull within 21/2

Associated Press
Published September 4, 2004

BOSTON - It took the Red Sox 19 days to slash eight games off New York's AL East lead. And they're not done yet.

"We're just going to take care of what we can take care of," reliever Mike Timlin said after Friday night's 2-0 win over the Rangers cut the Yankees lead to 21/2. "We won today. We're going to win tomorrow."

That's a pretty safe prediction considering the Red Sox have a 10-game winning streak for the first time in nine years and have won 16-of-17.

"I expected it," Pedro Martinez said of Boston's spectacular surge. "I thought we had the talent all the way to have a run like this one."

Martinez allowed four hits in seven innings, and Manny Ramirez and Bill Mueller homered, moving the Red Sox the closest they've been to first since before games on June 12.

Boston, which trailed by 101/2 on Aug. 16, is on its longest winning streak since winning 12 in a row from Aug. 3-14, 1995.

The Red Sox have lost once since Aug. 15, an Aug. 23 game when Toronto's Ted Lilly pitched a three-hit shutout to beat Martinez. Their run has given them a 41/2-game lead in the wild-card race over Anaheim.

But Boston wants to win the division, which would give the Red Sox homefield advantage in the playoffs.

"We're still reaching in front of us and trying to get somewhere else," Jason Varitek said.

Martinez pitched shutout ball for the second time in five starts, striking out nine, walking one and matching his season high with 117 pitches.

"I felt pretty good command of every pitch I had," he said. "I'm in good shape. I feel at the tippy top part of my game."

Timlin and Alan Embree pitched the eighth and Keith Foulke the ninth for his 27th save in 32 opportunities. Boston leads the league with 11 shutouts.

John Wasdin allowed two runs and four hits in 61/3 innings for Texas, which fell seven games behind Boston in the wild-card race. The Rangers lost their fifth straight, the past two by the same score.

"It's unfortunate that he ran into Martinez," Texas manager Buck Showalter said. "There's been a lot of guys who say that over the years."

Ramirez hit his 37th homer with two outs in the first, and Mueller hit his 11th leading off the third. Both came on the first pitch from Wasdin.

"I did what I wanted to do. I threw two perfect pitches" on the homers, Wasdin said. "They've got some serious momentum. We've just got to find a way to find our momentum."

Wasdin got out of jams in the fifth and sixth, when the Red Sox put their first two batters on base.

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