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PEDRO: 'AS GOOD AS IT GETS'

Pedro Martinez could not remember such an impressive performance. No one else could, either.

Martinez struck out a record 17 Yankees batters and pitched a one-hitter, allowing only a second-inning home run to Chili Davis in leading the Boston Red Sox over New York, 3-1, Friday night.

Martinez (21-4) retired the final 22 batters, set a career high for strikeouts and matched his best low-hit game ever.

"This is as good as it gets," Martinez said. "I felt in command of everything on every count."

After the home run by Davis, he did not allow another runner in completing a near-perfect effort.

Martinez leads the majors in wins and ERA (2.20) and tops the AL in strikeouts (274), and the sellout crowd of 55,239 got to see why.

Never before had 17 Yankees batters fanned in one game, but New York had no chance against Martinez's dazzling assortment of fastballs, curves and change-ups.

After the fourth inning, the Yankees hit just one fair ball. Martinez fanned 12 of the 15 final batters.

Besides Davis, Chuck Knoblauch was the only Yankees batter to reach. He was hit by a pitch leading off the first inning, then caught stealing.

"It's probably the best performance I've seen," New York's Derek Jeter said.

Mike Stanley hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning against former teammate Andy Pettitte (12-11) as the Red Sox won for the 13th time in 17 games. The Red Sox cut the Yankees lead in the AL East to 5 1/2 games. Boston held its three-game lead over Oakland in the AL wild-card race.

A's rookie maintains poise

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rookie Tim Hudson showed no signs of wilting under the pressure of the AL wild-card race.

The 24-year-old right-hander won his eighth straight decision, allowing six hits in 7 2/3 innings as the Oakland Athletics beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 7-2.

While the A's failed to gain ground on Boston in the wild-card race, Hudson's pitching is one of the reasons they feel good about their chances of catching the Red Sox.

"Every time I go out there, I'm motivated," Hudson said. "I don't really need to be in a pennant race to be excited to be out there to pitch. Every game is exciting for me."

Hudson (10-1) matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts and became the first A's draft pick to win 10 games since Curt Young went 11-8 in 1988.

In improving to 8-0 over his last 14 starts, he didn't walk a batter and lowered his ERA to 3.06.

O's Bordick shares glory

BALTIMORE -- For the first time in his nine-year major league career, Mike Bordick won a game by hitting a home run in a sudden-death situation.

He had to share the glory.

Cal Ripken went 4 for 4 to move within 22 hits of 3,000 for his career, and Bordick homered in the 12th inning to lift the Baltimore Orioles past the Seattle Mariners, 5-4.

Bordick hit a one-out drive to center on a 3-2 pitch from Rob Ramsey (0-1).

"That's the first time ever. It was real neat, real exciting," Bordick said.

Around the horn

David Justice hit a grand slam to highlight a season-high 12-run fourth inning and power the Indians to a 14-6 victory over the White Sox. White Sox slugger Frank Thomas will undergo season-ending surgery Monday to remove a bone spur from his injured right ankle. . . . Juan Encarnacion's bases-loaded single in the ninth inning gave the Tigers a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays, who lost their fourth straight. . . . Blake Stein earned his first win in seven starts with the Royals, pitching seven innings for a 7-3 win over the Rangers. . . . Chuck Finley gave up three hits in 7 1/3 innings and Mo Vaughn went 4 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs as the Angels beat the Twins, 4-2.

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