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LOST IN `BERMUDA TRIANGLE' MARTINEZ, QUIRKY PLAYS COMBINE TO SINK ANGELS AT FENWAY BOSTON 4, ANGELS 1.

Byline: Joe Haakenson Staff Writer

BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox had a couple of things going for them Friday night, and together they teamed up to beat the Angels 4-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 33,221 at Fenway Park.

First and foremost, the Red Sox had pitcher Pedro Martinez on the mound. Martinez (17-3) gave up only a solo homer to Troy Glaus in his eight innings, cruising after the Red Sox offense scored four runs in the first three innings off Angels starter Jarrod Washburn.

The Angels fell two games behind Oakland in the American League West and remain one game behind Seattle in the wild-card race. Boston moved to within 1 1/2 games of the Angels in the wild-card race.

In addition to Martinez's performance, the Red Sox also got a boost from a fan who does a remarkable impersonation of Angels right fielder Orlando Palmeiro.

In the fourth inning, the Red Sox had Rickey Henderson on first base with nobody out when Nomar Garciaparra hit a popup to shallow right field just inside the foul line. Second baseman Adam Kennedy got there in time but backed off at the last moment and let the ball fall.

Luckily for the Angels, Palmeiro picked up the ball and threw to second base to force Henderson. But it was the kind of play that typified the Angels' fortunes Friday.

``A fan said, 'I got it, I got it,' and I said, 'That's Orlando,' '' Kennedy said. ``He got me good. It was one guy whose voice stood out and he got me. It's funny now because the run didn't score.''

No, that one didn't score. But when Henderson hit a popup to nearly the same spot one inning earlier, the outcome was different. Kennedy got turned around and the ball fell in for a single. Henderson scored on Garciaparra's double high off the Green Monster in left field.

The Red Sox added two more runs in the inning, both of which probably would not have scored had Kennedy made the play.

``The balls down the line seem to come back here more than other parks,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ``I don't know if it's the wind or what.''

Kennedy wouldn't blame the wind.

``(Angels hitting coach) Mickey (Hatcher) calls it the Bermuda Triangle,'' Kennedy said. ``I was going where I thought the ball was going to be, but it wasn't there.''

Washburn (15-5) paid for the wayward popups and a few broken-bat hits, including one by Henderson in which the barrel end of the bat had Washburn diving for cover. Washburn has lost his past two starts after winning 15 of 16 decisions, but he said he isn't concerned because he said he threw well.

``I couldn't get upset because I was making my pitches,'' said Washburn, who gave up a season-high 11 hits in six innings. ``Balls found holes. You've got to laugh. You'd make yourself crazy if you let that stuff frustrate you. ... I didn't miss many spots, they just did a good job of putting the ball in play.''

Besides Glaus' homer in the seventh, the closest the Angels came to scoring off Martinez came in the fourth inning after Palmeiro singled with one out. Garret Anderson doubled into the right-field corner, but the Red Sox's relay - right fielder Manny Ramirez to second baseman Rey Sanchez to catcher Jason Varitek - nailed Palmeiro at the plate.

The Angels have lost three of four games, but Scioscia continues to preach his one-game focus. ``There's a lot of baseball left,'' he said. And the Angels players similarly don't want to put too much pressure on themselves.

``I don't think going out there and playing in a panic is best for us,'' Kennedy said.

However, Red Sox manager Grady Little said Friday's game had a playoff feel to it.

``I don't think there is any question about it,'' Little said. ``Everyone knows what's at stake in a series like this. It's the same for both teams and you saw a lot of intensity out there.''

CAPTION(S):

2 photos, box

Photo:

(1 -- color) Boston's Jason Varitek looks at the ball as Angels designated hitter Brad Fullmer walks away from the plate after striking out.

(2) Pedro Martinez, looking skyward as he walks to the Red Sox dugout after going eight innings, improved to 17-3.

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Box:

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 24, 2002
Words:734
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