Texas Rangers closer John Wetteland faced Boston slugger Mo Vaughn with two outs in the ninth representing the tying run for the second straight game.
Wetteland struck out Vaughn to register his 31st save, matching last season's total, as the Rangers won their sixth straight with a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox Friday night.
A weary Wetteland, appearing in his fourth straight game, altered his pitching pattern from Thursday night when he went almost exclusively with his fastball.
"I wanted to pitch guys a little differently than last night," said Wetteland, who has three saves and a win over the four-game span. "Against Vaughn, I wanted to give a different look than last night, so I threw a lot more breaking balls. This would have been a difficult game to let slip away. The guys played inspired baseball tonight."
Vaughn noticed the change in Wetteland's pitch selection.
"He switched the whole pattern on me," Vaughn said. "He started me out with two hard breaking balls."
Rick Helling out-dueled Pedro Martinez for his 15th victory as the Rangers tied their longest winning streak of the season.
Martinez (15-4) recovered from a three-run first to strike out a season-high 13. He allowed four runs, six hits and two walks in 6 2-3 innings.
"Anytime you face a guy like that, a Cy Young winner, you wanto get off to a good start," said Will Clark, who had a two-run homer in the first for the Rangers. "From there he got into a groove and only got tougher. Three runs is a big cushion against a guy like Pedro."
Trailing 4-3 with runners on first and second and two outs, Martinez was taken out of the game in the seventh by manager Jimy Williams after throwing 124 pitches. Martinez angrily shouted to himself as he walked to the dugout.
"I'm not big on coming out of a game," Martinez said. "It's my pride. I don't get mad at anybody."
Helling (15-6) allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings, leaving after Mike Benjamin's leadoff double in the seventh. Tim Crabtree got out of the seventh without allowing a run and the Rangers bullpen held the Red Sox scoreless on one hit over the final three innings.
Helling struck out three and walked two as he extended his career-high for victories by prevailing against the AL's ERA leader.
"When you face a guy like that, you know runs are going to be hard to come by," Helling said. "The key was getting three in the first against one of the best pitchers in baseball. From there I just tried to do my job."
Juan Gonzalez's major league-leading 119th RBI helped Texas take advantage of an error by first baseman Vaughn in the fifth, breaking a 3-all tie. Tom Goodwin led off with a single and Luis Alicea bunted. Vaughn fielded the ball and threw over the head of second baseman Benjamin, putting runners at second and third. Gonzalez's sacrifice fly drove in Goodwin with an unearned run.
The Rangers capitalized on a couple of rare mistake pitches by Martinez in the first. Rusty Greer hit a run-scoring double and after Gonzalez struck out, Clark hit his 16th homer, a two-run shot over the Rangers bullpen in right field.
Boston tied it with a three-run fourth, highlighted by RBI singles from Darren Bragg and Damon Buford and Scott Hatteberg's sacrifice fly. The Red Sox got a break early in the inning when Mike Stanley's fly ball fell between Goodwin in center field and Greer in left for what was scored a single to load the bases.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved