Giambi, dropped to seventh in the lineup for this game, homered in the fifth, and again in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Boston lead to 4-2. Derek Jeter stepped in front of the Yankees' dugout and pumped his fist, as he has in so many Octobers.
Martinez then accelerated his fastball to 94 mph at the end of the seventh, finishing off Alfonso Soriano; and then teammate Nomar Garciaparra met Martinez with a hug. His pitch count was over 100, there had been some doubt about his physical condition, and with relievers Mike Timlin and Scott Williamson in line to throw the last two innings, it seemed the seventh might have been the last inning for Martinez.
But Little sent him back out for the bottom of the eighth, after David Ortiz homered to give Boston a 5-2 lead. Nick Johnson popped out to lead off the inning, and Boston was five outs from reaching the World Series — just as the Cubs had been five outs away on Tuesday.
Derek Jeter smashed a line drive toward right field, where there is relatively little space and where hits rarely land behind the right fielder. But Jeter's liner eluded Trot Nixon, landing and then caroming against the fence — for a double.
Bernie Williams lashed a single over shortstop, driving home Jeter, cutting Boston's lead to 5-3. It was the 115th pitch thrown by Martinez and Little emerged from the Red Sox dugout, the right-hander Timlin and the left-hander Alan Embree were warmed up and ready to come in.
Several of the Yankees said afterward that it appeared Martinez was becoming more vulnerable.
... Until the Bottom of the 8th
Hideki Matsui, the next hitter for the Yankees, had good swings against Martinez in this series, hitting a ground-rule double off the Red Sox ace in Game 3, smashing another double in the fourth inning of Game 7.
An easy decision for Little, it seemed.
Little went to the mound, spoke to Martinez and patted him with encouragement, but then turned and stepped back to the dugout, not knowing that he was about to join Bill Buckner in Red Sox lore.
"Pedro wanted to stay in there," Little said after the game. "He wanted to get the job done just as he has many times for us all season long and he's the man we all wanted on the mound. "Pedro Martinez has been our man all year long and in situations like that, he's the one we want on the mound over anybody we can bring in out of that bullpen."
Martinez threw two quick strikes to Matsui, and then fired a fastball inside — and Matsui turned on it, pulling the ball down the right field line, just fair; it skipped into the stands for a ground-rule double. Williams was at third, Matsui at second, the tying runs on base.
Timlin and Embree were ready, and Jorge Posada was coming to bat for the Yankees, still wearing a large chip on his shoulder from his screaming confrontations with Martinez in Game 3.
Martinez had thrown 118 pitches. Little remained in his dugout seat; he was sticking with Martinez.
"He had enough left in his tank to finish off Posada," said Little.
Torre sat impassively in the dugout. Jeff Nelson clasped his hands together. Jeter stood at the top step of the dugout, screaming encouragement at Posada when he swung through a curve to make the count 2 balls and 2 strikes.
Stay back, Jeter was screaming, gesturing with his hand, wait for your pitch, wait.