Red-hot V-Mart picks up Lackey, Red Sox
Catcher turns in 5-for-5 night, notches four double vs. A's
BOSTON -- Victor Martinez knows how to perk up a batterymate, which is one of his biggest strengths as a catcher. So after John Lackey had thrown his 116th -- and final -- pitch of the night to get out of trouble in the sixth, Martinez had a little message for the big righty.
"Vic did a great job there behind the plate, and then he told me to hang in there, and he told me he was going to take care of me, and he did," said Lackey. "It was pretty cool."
Martinez's words were soothing. But his bat was the difference-maker. Martinez took care of not just Lackey, but his entire team on Tuesday night, putting together one of the best offensive nights of his career, and lifting the Red Sox to a 9-4 comeback victory over the Athletics.
The switch-hitter was a destructive force, going 5-for-5 with four doubles. And just a few minutes after Martinez told Lackey he would take care of him, he did, pummeling a two-out ground-rule double to right-center in the bottom of the sixth that snapped a 4-4 tie. The Red Sox never trailed again, successfully overcoming a 4-0 deficit.
Lackey got the win, somehow allowing only four runs despite a season-high 12 hits over six innings.
Martinez was modest after his monster night.
"I think I definitely got a little bit lucky," said Martinez. "[I] found some holes and I just went out there and looked for a good pitch to hit, and just put a good swing on the ball. Like I always say, when you put a good swing on the ball, anything can happen."
And it wasn't just anything that happened -- it was something unusual.
It marked the first time a Major League catcher had produced four doubles in a game since Cleveland's Sandy Alomar, who also pulled off that feat at Fenway against the Red Sox on June 6, 1997.
Martinez was the first Boston hitter to club four doubles in a game since Rick Miller on May 11, 1981, in Toronto.
It is to the point now where Martinez's early-season slump has become a fading memory. The catcher has 16 hits in his past 31 at-bats. He is hitting .279 with seven homers and 26 RBIs.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona remembers what it was like facing Martinez when he was in that type of groove.
"I used to hate it," Francona said. "He's a good hitter. I kind of fall back on that [thought that] good hitters, when they cool off, they [subsequently] get just as hot. Sometimes the formula is a little different. But you could see he was on everything tonight."
If Martinez played the starring role on offense, a big assist came from Adrian Beltre, who slammed a two-out three-run laser into the Monster Seats in the bottom of the fifth, slicing Oakland's lead to 4-3.
"It was like you could taste that final out. You could see it coming. I just left a hanging curveball, and he did his job," said A's starter Gio Gonzalez. "He's a good hitter."
Acquired largely for his defense, Beltre is hitting .451 with four homers and 16 RBIs in his past 13 games.
"He's been amazing," Martinez said of Beltre. "He's been fun to watch. He's a guy that will battle every at-bat. He's more tough when he gets two strikes. He just goes out there and doesn't give any at-bats away. He really battles every at-bat."
As for Lackey, he is 6-3 despite an ERA (4.95) that is higher than he is accustomed to.
"Obviously you've got to bear down and try to make some pitches," said Lackey. "They had a few that fell in on me, found some holes and scored some runs, but the guys took care of me. They swung the bats well."
It was the 11th win in the past 14 games by the rolling Red Sox.
The A's jumped out first, getting a two-run homer from Daric Barton in the top of the third. They had a chance to break it open an inning later, loading the bases with nobody out. But Lackey dug down and got out of that jam unscathed.
"Lackey obviously didn't bring his best stuff, but I mean, he's a warrior," said Martinez. "He just hangs in there for us and gave us a pretty good chance to win this ballgame."
After the escape act in the fourth, Lackey wasn't quite so lucky in the fifth. Jack Cust (RBI single) and Mark Ellis (RBI double) gave Oakland a 4-0 lead.
But the Red Sox were just about to get started.
"Never quit," Martinez said. "We never quit. For sure, we're going to go out there and keep playing our game and keeping putting some pressure on. And we always play one through nine, no matter what. That's something we've really been doing a great job of."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.