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Pedro hit hard but says he feels great

Another start, another tough outing for Pedro Martinez. But the Red Sox ace said ignore the numbers because he feels stronger than he has in three years.

Martinez, recovering from a shoulder injury that limited him to 18 starts last season, allowed four runs in five innings Thursday in Boston's 9-6 win over the Cardinals, a performance that actually reduced his spring ERA to 8.65.

Martinez was dominant at times, striking out eight while throwing 79 pitches. After the game he said his arm felt strong and his pitch command was improved.

"Even though the results weren't the best today, I actually felt better," he said. "I felt so good at the end. I felt like I could throw one or two more innings."

Martinez struck out Kerry Robinson and J.D. Drew on three pitches each in the first inning. In the third, he froze Tino Martinez with a curveball for a strikeout. He struck out Placido Polanco and Jim Edmonds in his last inning.

Martinez has struggled with his location all spring, and Thursday was no exception. He left a fastball up to Drew, who hit it for a two-run double in the third. Eduardo Perez drove in two with a home run on a curveball in the fifth.

Martinez allowed six runs in four innings in his previous spring training start and three runs in 2 the start before.

"I would like to do better, there's no doubt. I don't want to go out there and give it up, like I have been doing," Martinez said.

Manager Grady Little had few concerns about Martinez's high ERA and said the team's ace has improved control.

"I was anxious to see if he going to continue on the road to improvement," Little said. "He's not back to where he has been in the past, but he's well on his way."

ANGELS: Third baseman Troy Glaus, who had been sidelined a week with a strained abdominal muscle, hit his fourth homer.

INDIANS: Catcher Eddie Perez was acquired from the Braves for a player to be named. Perez, 33, was Atlanta's backup to Javy Lopez from 1996-99, but shoulder injuries kept him sidelined for most of the past two seasons. Outfielder Milton Bradley was scratched with tendinitis in his right knee. He's batting .349 this spring. A preliminary MRI on right-hander Jaret Wright's shoulder showed no new damage, general manager Mark Shapiro said. Wright, who has had two surgeries in the past 18 months, left camp this week with tightness.

RANGERS: Right-hander Ismael Valdes pitched five innings for the Class A team in a minor-league exhibition game, allowing five runs, three earned, on eight hits and two walks and striking out three.

TIGERS: Manager Phil Garner, still trying to decide on a starting lineup, probably will use a different one each day for the rest of the spring. Thursday he had Bobby Higginson leading off, followed by Dmitri Young, Mitch Meluskey and Shane Halter. "We have some flexibility in the middle of the order, but we don't have many options in the leadoff spot or the second spot," Garner said. Third baseman Dean Palmer, coming off shoulder surgery, continues to be bothered by a sore neck and might not play in a major-league game again this spring. Left-hander Adam Pettyjohn, who had colon surgery Sunday, was released from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. He will remain in Detroit until April 8 for treatment. He is out for the season.

_ TIMES WIRES

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