ANAHEIM, Calif. - Pedro Martinez was awful at the end of the regular season. He was an ace Wednesday night.
Martinez pitched seven effective innings, Manny Ramirez drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly, and the wild-card Boston Red Sox beat Anaheim 8-3 for a commanding 2-0 lead in the AL division series.
A day after Curt Schilling won with 6 2/3 innings, Martinez went even a bit longer.
"I was the No. 1 today, and that's all that matters," said Martinez, 0-4 with a 7.72 ERA to finish the season. "I don't care what the experts have to say, they were talking trash. Every time they give me the ball, I'm special."
He was in this game, allowing three runs and six hits, striking out six and walking two. He retired his last seven batters and left after 116 pitches.
The 32-year-old right-hander, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, is 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA in the postseason.
"He's a big-game pitcher," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "I thought he competed his heart out. There were some situations where at any point in that game if something doesn't go our way, we could lose the game. He gave everything he had to do what he did."
With two wins at Angel Stadium, the Red Sox will try to sweep the best-of-five matchup on Friday at Fenway Park. Bronson Arroyo can put Boston back in the AL championship series when he starts against Kelvim Escobar.
"Boston went out and did what they had to do. They won against one of the best bullpens in baseball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "These two games, they've taken it to us. We haven't gotten into our game like we can."
Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who won a record-tying five postseason games two years ago to help Anaheim win the World Series, threw a wild pitch that set up Ramirez's sacrifice fly in the seventh for a 4-3 lead.
Boston broke it open in the ninth, scoring four runs off Brendan Donnelly. Ramirez doubled, Trot Nixon hit an RBI single and Orlando Cabrera lined a two-out, three-run double.
"You know they feel good when they get to their bullpen, like we do," Francona said. "Not only did we get the lead but we tacked on a little bit. Somewhere down the line, that might help us. This bullpen has been invincible."
Martinez said he had no excuses for his poor stretch last month.
"I didn't want to say it, but in the last two games, I was feeling a little stronger than normal," he said. "I struggled at the end of the regular season. Those games didn't really count. I still wanted to pitch well, but I just couldn't do it.
"I feel great right now, and my arm feels strong. I feel great and I hope it continues that way."
Scioscia said Martinez showed his team the best stuff he had all year.
Mike Timlin took over in the eighth with a one-run lead, gave up a single to Darin Erstad and struck out Vladimir Guerrero.
Francona then summoned Mike Myers, who struck out Garret Anderson. Keith Foulke came on and fanned Troy Glaus to end the inning.
Foulke pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
"We'll stand up to anyone's bullpen," Boston's Kevin Millar said. "Pedro's back. He was going through some tough times there in September. He showed tonight he's back."
Rally Monkeys were everywhere in the last two innings - on the scoreboard and in the stands. But the Angels couldn't score after the Red Sox took the lead.
It was tied at 3 when Bill Mueller got an infield hit to open the Boston seventh and Johnny Damon hit into a forceout. Mark Bellhorn walked before Rodriguez threw a wild pitch, putting runners at second and third. Ramirez then flied to center, easily deep enough to score Damon.
Rodriguez threw another wild pitch in the eighth, putting runners at second and third with two outs. But he retired Damon on a grounder to end the inning.
Guerrero's first postseason hit - a two-run single with one out in the fifth - put the Angels on top 3-1. Anderson followed with a liner to first base that Millar caught before stepping on the bag for an inning-ending double play.
The Red Sox tied it in the sixth on Jason Varitek's two-run homer after a two-out single by Millar.
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second when Ramirez drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk from Bartolo Colon. It could have been worse for the Angels, but with David Ortiz batting and the bases still loaded, catcher Jose Molina picked off Bellhorn at second.
The Angels tied it in their half on an RBI single by rookie Dallas McPherson before Martinez pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam.