- The Washington Times - Friday, April 26, 2002

BALTIMORE Pedro Martinez might not feel he is his old self, but the Baltimore Orioles surely think otherwise.
For the second time in 19 days, Martinez, coming off an injury-shortened 2001 campaign, handcuffed the Orioles. He tossed 5-2/3 innings before allowing a hit and struck out 10 in Boston's 7-0 victory yesterday before 31,353 at Camden Yards.
Martinez (3-0), who held the Orioles to three hits and one run in six innings April 7, had them off balance all afternoon yesterday. After hitting Brook Fordyce to open the sixth inning and retiring the next two batters, Martinez saw his bid for his first no-hitter end when No.2 hitter Gary Matthews Jr. lined a single to right. That was the only hit he allowed in seven innings.
"Big-game pitchers come up big," Matthews said. "Hopefully, you catch him on a day when he's not too sharp, but today we got him on a day when he had everything going."
While the Orioles' bats sputtered, their pitching took a blow about an hour before the game courtesy of a freak injury to Jason Johnson, who was scheduled to start tonight. While doing a "shadow" exercise in which he imitated his pitching motion without throwing a ball, Johnson slammed his pitching hand into the dirt on his follow-through, fracturing the right middle finger. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list, but since he won't be evaluated for about 14 days, he likely will miss at least three weeks.
The Orioles recalled right-hander Sean Douglass from Class AAA Rochester, and he will start tonight when Baltimore visits Kansas City.
Johnson's injury doesn't bode well for an already shaky rotation. Among the starters, Scott Erickson has the best ERA at 4.60.
The Red Sox touched up loser Calvin Maduro for runs in the second, third and fifth innings to build a 5-0 lead. Maduro was locating his off-speed pitches, but Red Sox batters teed off on his fastball, which reached only the high 80s.
No.8 hitter Trot Nixon led off the third inning with a homer to right, and Shea Hillenbrand doubled home another run later in the inning to make it 3-0. Manny Ramirez ripped a leadoff double and later scored in the second and had a two-out, two-run single in the fifth for a 5-0 lead.
That was more than enough insurance for Martinez, who has allowed two hits in his last 15 innings. He has said this season he wanted to be treated as a normal pitcher, not the one who had won three Cy Young Awards. After getting roughed up for eight runs on Opening Day, the murmurs about his health began, especially considering the shoulder problems that cut short last season. He quieted the talk with an eight-inning, one-hit masterpiece in his last start against Kansas City and again showed his dominating form against the Orioles.
"The day a no-hitter's going to happen, it's just going to happen," Martinez said. "I'm not going to try to go look for it or try to overdo anything. I'm just going to try to pitch my way through my injury and hopefully get better every day."
Said Red Sox manager Grady Little: "I've felt it for several starts now, but if there were any doubters, he's probably killing off a few of them right now."
Martinez, who threw 103 pitches, was under a strict 110 to 120 pitch count, and Little said he likely would have removed Martinez at his limit even if he still had the no-hitter going.
The Orioles were shut out for the third time this season and recorded five hits or less for the eighth time in just 21 games.
"That's the second time we've seen [Martinez], and if he's not as good as he was before the injury, I've yet to see it," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said.

Notes The Orioles demoted infielder Brian Roberts to Class AAA and purchased 30-year-old right-hander Travis Driskill from Rochester, where he was 2-2 with a 1.64 ERA in four starts. Driskill is in his 10th professional season but will be making his first appearance in the majors. The move gives the Orioles 12 pitchers again.
Hargrove said he considered moving Josh Towers back into the rotation but wants him to continue to work in the bullpen and gradually make his way back into the rotation. Utility man Melvin Mora sat out yesterday's game with a bruised right knee he suffered after being hit by a pitch Wednesday.


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