With only six career victories, and none since 1995, Dave Eiland didn't figure to be much of a match for Pedro Martinez.
The Tampa Bay right-hander isn't fazed by the underdog role, though, and pitched six strong innings Wednesday night to beat the Boston Red Sox ace 3-2 for his first win in nearly four years.
"I like being in that situation. I'm sure there's less than a handful of people that gave us a chance, and gave me a chance in particular," Eiland said.
John Flaherty, Paul Sorrento and Aaron Ledesma drove in runs for the Devil Rays, who denied Martinez (15-3) his major league-leading 16th victory despite striking out 14 times against the All-Star pitcher.
"He was outstanding. He's the best thing going right now," Eiland said. "But he can be beat. He bleeds just like the rest of us."
Eiland is not new to the underdog role. In six starts this season, he's been matched against Roger Clemens, Kenny Rogers, John Smoltz, Chris Carpenter, Pat Hentgen and Martinez a group of pitchers that have won eight Cy Young awards.
"There's no luck in this game. You create your own luck," Martinez said. "I just believe they played better baseball than l did. They pitched better, and they had the key base hits at the right time. That's it. They beat me."
Eiland (1-4) allowed seven hits and struck out one to get his first win in the big leagues since July 21, 1995 when he was with the New York Yankees. All-Star Roberto Hernandez pitched the ninth to earn his 24th save in 27 opportunities.
Martinez was trying to become the first pitcher to win 16 games before the All-Star break since San Diego's Randy Jones in 1976. Wilbur Wood, who had 16 wins at the break in 1974, was the last AL pitcher to reach the plateau.
Martinez allowed seven hits and walked two in eight innings, his hird complete game of the season and 26th of his career.
"Like I said before the game, if you're going to beat this guy you have to fight tooth and nail because he's going to fight you," Tampa Bay manager Larry Rothschild said. "We have not gotten Dave a lot of runs, and tonight you knew it wouldn't be much different."
The Devil Rays took a 1-0 lead in the second when Fred McGriff doubled and scored on Flaherty's single. Wade Boggs singled for the third straight hit off Martinez, who's allowed three or more hits to consecutive batters just five times this season.
Tampa Bay also strung together three hits in the sixth inning to erase a 2-1 deficit. The Devil Rays had four straight hits in an inning against Martinez during a 5-3 loss to the Red Sox on April 10.
Eiland, who pitched only two innings last Sunday before leaving with a sprained right ankle, allowed a solo homer by Wilton Veras in the fifth and Brian Daubach's run-scoring single that gave Martinez a short-lived lead in the sixth.
Flaherty singled off Martinez with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Boggs followed with career hit No. 2,977 and Paul Sorrento singled to drive in Flaherty, making it 2-2. The Devil Rays regained the lead when Aaron Ledesma grounded into a force play, enabling Boggs to score.
Martinez struck at least 10 for the 11th time this season and 46th time in his career. He fanned seven of nine batters before Flaherty's sixth-inning single got Tampa Bay's offense going again.
"I felt pretty good. I felt like I had pretty good stuff, good enough to probably throw a no-hitter or shut them down," Martinez said. "But they battled, and you have to give them credit."
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