New York Paul O'Neill and the New York Yankees have found the secret formula: They know how to win when facing Pedro Martinez.
Baseball's most dominant pitcher failed for the fifth straight time to defeat the rival Yankees, with Mike Mussina outdueling Martinez for a 2-1 win over Boston on Thursday.
The Yankees overcame Martinez in a familiar way, using stellar starting pitching, a couple of timely hits and an unbeatable bullpen.
"The Boston-Yankee thing, it's always a one-run game," said O'Neill, who hit a tiebreaking single in the fifth inning. "It seems like every time you look out there, it's Pedro on the mound."
"Obviously, he's throwing out zero after zero, and you've got to scratch and claw," he said. "He's the king of the hill, and to beat him is real satisfying."
Martinez (6-1) dropped to 0-3 in his last five starts against the Yankees despite a 2.75 ERA in that stretch.
"If everybody scores just two runs on me, I guarantee I'll win 20 games," Martinez said. "They score one or two, they beat me with that, I just tip my hat."
A sellout crowd of 55,592 saw the Yankees edge past Boston for first place in the AL East. Bernie Williams homered, O'Neill hit his key single and Mussina (5-4) made it stand up.
"I know it's Pedro and all, and it moved us into first place, but we still have a lot of games to play," Mussina said.
"We're fortunate to have done as well against him as we have. Anytime you come out and play against Pedro, you know what he's capable of."
It was a good omen for the Yankees, who began a stretch in which they're scheduled to see the three-time Cy Young winner three times in 12 days.
"I got the loss today, but hopefully I'll get my revenge the next time," Martinez said.
Martinez, whose major league-leading ERA rose from 1.52 to 1.60, struck out 12 to increase his AL-high total to 108.
Mussina struck out a season-high 12, including Carl Everett four times, and walked none in eight innings. He gave up six hits, as did Martinez, and rarely was in trouble.
Mussina survived a threat in the seventh when Shea Hillenbrand singled with two outs and Brian Daubach hit a high fly that left fielder Chuck Knoblauch seemed to lose in the sun, with the ball bouncing into the stands for a ground-rule double.
But Mussina struck out Nixon, and the Red Sox did not threaten again.
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances.
"Every time you play the Red Sox, it's like postseason play," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Rangers 9, Devil Rays 3
St. Petersburg, Fla. Alex Rodriguez homered twice in a game for the fourth time this season and drove in five runs.
Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Tanyon Sturtze (1-4) in the first inning and added a three-run shot off Mickey Callaway in the sixth. Ten of his 17 homers have come in May, tying Juan Gonzalez's club record for the month.
Rick Helling (2-6) allowed three runs and nine hits in eight innings to win for the first time since April 22.
Orioles 6, Angels 4
Baltimore Jason Johnson (4-2) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings, and rookie Jay Gibbons snapped a 1-for-19 skid with a three-run homer.
Cal Ripken had two hits and an RBI for the Orioles, who have won three straight.
Ramon Ortiz (3-4), winless in four starts in May, gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings.
Indians 8, Tigers 5
Cleveland Wil Cordero homered twice and Juan Gonzalez had three RBIs.
Cordero, who earlier this year snapped a homerless streak of 257 at-bats, hit solo shots in the second and fourth innings off rookie Victor Santos (1-1) to help the Indians rally from a 3-0 deficit. Dave Burba (7-2) improved to 8-2 in 12 starts against the Tigers, allowing a season-high 10 hits and four runs in 52/3 innings.
Bob Wickman got three outs for his eighth save.
White Sox 3, Blue Jays 1
Toronto Kip Wells (1-1) allowed five hits in six innings as Chicago stopped an eight-game losing streak.
Ray Durham and Jeff Liefer each went 3-for-4, and Keith Foulke pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
Chris Carpenter (4-2) allowed three runs one earned and 10 hits in eight innings.