Pedro Martinez cares about his 20th win only because it will be his next one.
"I'm not thinking 20. I'm just trying to win the game," the Red Sox ace said Monday night after striking out 11 in six innings to match his career high with 19 wins and lead Boston to a 9-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Coupled with Oakland's 7-4 loss to the AL East-leading New York Yankees a game watched intently in the Red Sox clubhouse the win moved Boston two game ahead of the Athletics in the wild-card race.
He will have his first chance to become the majors' first 20-game winner on Saturday in Seattle. But Martinez, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 1997 after going 17-8, said the milestone is less important than helping the team win.
"Twenty games doesn't mean anything to me. I could win the Cy Young with less than 20, I've done it before," he said. "I'm always thinking: All of them."
Jose Offerman went 4-for-4 and Butch Huskey had three hits and two RBIs for the Red Sox. When Martinez left after six innings, Boston relievers pitched three innings of one-hit ball as the Red Sox staff struck out 15 Royals in all.
Jeff Suppan (8-8) allowed six runs, five of them earned, on seven hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings as the Royals dropped their fourth consecutive game. He also committed one of three errors charged to Kansas City, which managed only five hits.
"Our defense was so poor tonight that we put tremendous pressure on Jeff," Royalmanager Tony Muser said. "He wasn't able to work through it tonight."
The Red Sox took the lead for good in the bottom half when Huskey and Jason Varitek singled and scored. Then they broke it open in the fifth, chasing Suppan with four runs on three hits, one walk, an error and a double steal.
Offerman led off with a double and took third when Sweeney dropped Donnie Sadler's sacrifice bunt attempt at first base. Brad Rigby relieved Suppan and, on his first pitch to Brian Daubach, Sadler took off for second and catcher Tim Spehr's throw went into center field, allowing Offerman to score on the double steal.
Dye picked up his club record 16th outfield assist in the seventh inning. Amos Otis had 15 in 1970.
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