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Pedro treats brawl like just another night at the ball park

Posted: Thursday, August 31, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Pedro Martinez didn't budge, before or after the fight. If anything, he got nastier.

The AL Cy Young Award winner came within three outs of his first no-hitter Tuesday night, keeping his composure after hitting the leadoff batter with a pitch against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Martinez stood his ground when Gerald Williams charged the mound, shoved the 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-hander and landed a punch that knocked the pitcher on the seat of his pants.

For eight innings, it was the only hit for the Devil Rays.

''I'm not scared. I've been through that many times. I'm not afraid to fight anybody. I'm not afraid to do anything out there,'' Martinez said. ''I'm not afraid to get hit. I'm out there to pitch and what happens, happens. It's all part of the game.''

Williams was ejected and manager Larry Rothschild was tossed for arguing Martinez should have been thrown out, too. By the time the Red Sox pitcher lost his no-hitter on John Flaherty's ninth-inning single, two Devil Rays coaches serving as acting managers and four more Tampa Bay players also had been ejected.

Devil Rays pitchers hit three batters, including Brian Daubach twice, in retaliation for what Tampa Bay felt were cheap shots the Boston first baseman threw during the brawl.

''Whoever hits first is the winner. You hit a guy first, and you get a warning,'' Devil Rays infielder Ozzie Guillen said. ''If I'm the manager, or I'm a coach, I tell my pitchers: 'You be the first one to the punch because after that we'll have the warning.''

Rothschild and his players said Tuesday night was a prime example of a double standard that exists for the Red Sox ace. Martinez has been involved in fights precipitated by plunking batters before, and this year has hit one batter (a league-high 14) for roughly every two (27) he's walked.

''It seems that there are some guys can do whatever they want to do and it's all right,'' said Tampa Bay's Greg Vaughn, who was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing a called third strike. ''He throws 95-96 miles an hour and he decides he wants to hit you and you have to stand there and take it? It's not right.''

The last time Martinez was ejected was April 30 at Cleveland for hitting Roberto Alomar with a pitch. He was also suspended five games.

The last time he was tossed for fighting was his final start of 1996 for Montreal, when he charged the mound after Mike Williams threw two straight pitches behind him. That incident drew an eight-game suspension.

Tuesday night was the first time a player reached the mound to fight Martinez since Reggie Sanders on April 13, 1994. The right-hander hit Sanders with a pitch, breaking up a bid for a perfect game and starting the brawl.

''When you strike out 200-300 people every year, you have control. When you're going to hit somebody, you will hit them,'' Guillen said. ''I think he threw at (Gerald Williams). I don't care what he says. I don't care what people say.''

Devil Rays starter Dave Eiland was ejected after hitting Daubach and Nomar Garciaparra in the third inning. Cory Lidle was tossed when he threw behind Daubach in the seventh and replaced by Tony Fiore -- who was ejected for hitting Daubach with his second pitch.

Coaches Bill Russell and Jose Cardenal were ejected because they were the acting managers when Lidle and Fiore threw at Daubach.

''Five consecutive pitches -- one over his head, one behind him. I don't understand those,'' Boston manager Jimy Williams said. ''If, in fact, something happened in the first go-round, to me, there are probably other ways to take care of it.''

Through it all, Martinez remained focus and concentrated on throwing the ball by the Devil Rays rather than at them. He struck out 13 and walked none to finish with the third one-hitter of his career.

Flaherty, who lined a 2-2 fastball to right-center leading off the ninth, said he's never seen the two-time Cy Young winner throw better.

''When he has marginal stuff, he's awesome. ... He had electric stuff,'' Flaherty said. ''As a hitter, all you can do is battle. It was the best velocity I've ever seen from him. He threw sliders I just could not hit.''

Martinez said he was more interested in winning than throwing a no-hitter. He insisted he was just trying to pitch Gerald Williams inside -- not hit him -- and that staying in control of the game was much more important than reacting to the Devil Rays.

''To me, he maintained his composure,'' Jimy Williams said.



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