St. Petersburg, Fla. After hitting his first batter, Pedro Martinez was nearly perfect.
Twenty-four up, twenty-four down.
Then came John Flaherty's leadoff single in the ninth.
"I don't really care. I've achieved enough," Martinez said after finishing with a one-hitter Tuesday night in Boston's beanball- and brawl-filled 8-0 win over Tampa Bay.
"I've had enough achievement in my career," Martinez said. "A no-hitter is not what's going to dictate what kind of pitcher I am. I think my career is more interesting than one game."
After hitting Gerald Williams with his fourth pitch of the night, Martinez (15-4) was perfect until Flaherty singled to the right-center on a 2-2 pitch. Martinez then retired his next three batters, finishing with the third one-hitter of his career.
He struck out 13, including Greg Vaughn and Fred McGriff three times each, and walked none.
Eight Devil Rays five players, manager Larry Rothschild and two coaches were ejected in the first seven innings during five altercations, primarily caused by four hit batters, including Boston's Brian Daubach twice.
Tampa Bay thought Martinez hit Williams intentionally, and Daubach became a target for Devil Rays pitchers after the first baseman joined the fray when Williams charged the mound and landed a punch.
"The whole thing was we thought Daubach threw some cheap shots in the pile," said Devil Rays manager Larry Rothschild, who was ejected for arguing that Martinez should have been tossed out for throwing at Williams.
"You've got to protect your players," the manager added. "You're not going to let that happen."
Martinez, the AL Cy Young Award winner, lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.68, throwing 110 pitches, including 71 strikes. On June 3, 1995, when he was with Montreal, Martinez became only the second pitcher in the history of the major leagues to take a perfect game into extra innings, before allowing a leadoff double to San Diego's Bip Roberts leading off the 10th.
The only other pitcher to accomplish the feat was Harvey Haddix of Pittsburgh in 1959. He pitched 12 perfect innings in that game before losing in the 13th.
Under amended no-hitter rules adopted by an eight-man committee on statistical accuracy in 1991, Martinez received credit for neither a perfect game nor a no-hitter.
"I'm not disappointed at all. I wanted to win a ballgame. I'm not there to pitch no-hitters and stuff. The days that it happens, I'll take them," Martinez said.
Flaherty lined his hit after Martinez carefully removed a chain from around his neck that broke on the previous pitch. Flaherty wasn't in Tampa Bay's clubhouse after the game.
"He hit a good pitch. I have to tip my hat to him and just go away," the Martinez said. "I lost with a fastball."
Carl Everett went 4-for-5 and equaled a career high with six RBIs. He had a two-run double in the third, a solo homer in the fifth and a three-run seventh-inning homer. The first homer was Everett's 100th, including 32 this season.
"Unfortunately, we had some disagreements out there. But I wanted him to throw a no-hitter," Everett said. "It just is amazing that someone like him has never thrown one. I just wanted him to do it."
Angels 9, Blue Jays 4
Anaheim, Calif. Darin Erstad went 3-for-5 to reach 200 hits faster than any player in 65 years as Anaheim rallied from a four-run deficit to beat Toronto.
White Sox 3, Athletics 0
Oakland, Calif. Chicago's James Baldwin combined with two relievers on a five-hitter, and Paul Konerko hit a three-run homer as the White Sox beat Oakland.
Tigers 12, Orioles 2
Baltimore Dean Palmer homered and drove in four runs to back an effective pitching performance by Jeff Weaver as Detroit beat the Baltimore. Bobby Higginson and Dusty Allen also homered, and Juan Encarnacion had four hits for the Tigers.
Indians 12, Rangers 1
Arlington, Texas Steve Woodard allowed one run and four hits in six innings for his first win since May 11, and Cleveland routed Texas.
Mariners 5, Yankees 3
Seattle Edgar Martinez hit a come-from-behind grand slam off Jeff Nelson with two outs in the eighth inning.