BOSTON — Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona got a text message from Victor Martinez well after midnight on Tuesday morning saying, "Let me play."
Francona just wanted his newly acquired backup catcher, first baseman and designated hitter to get some sleep.
"I said, 'Leave me alone. You'll come in tomorrow night, pinch hit and get the game-winning hit," Francona said, coming pretty close to what actually would happen less than 24 hours later.
Martinez came off the bench to single in the tying run in the seventh inning, then doubled home an insurance run after Jason Bay's tiebreaking homer in the eighth and Boston went on to beat the Chicago White Sox 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits to go with his franchise-record 55th stolen base, and Jonathan Papelbon, confident that newly acquired left-hander Billy Wagner won't be taking his closer's job, pitched the ninth for his 30th save. Papelbon is the second pitcher, along with Billy Koch, to reach 30 saves in each of his first four seasons.
Manny Delcarmen (5-2) got one out to escape a first-and-third jam in the eighth to earn the win.
Scott Linebrink (3-6) gave up three runs on three hits in one inning. Jayson Nix had two hits, including a solo homer, for Chicago, which lost its third straight and fell to .500 for the first time since July 29.
"I know what I've got, and I'm still waiting for it to show up," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I'm the captain of the boat. I go down with the ship."
Bay homered off Linebrink to give Boston the lead, then Nick Green singled and scored from first on Martinez's double. Ellsbury's single scored Martinez — a trading deadline acquisition who has squeezed into the lineup at three positions — to make it 6-3.
Ellsbury also led off the bottom of the first inning with a ground-rule double and then stole third to break Tommy Harper's franchise record of 54, set in 1973. Ellsbury, who stole 50 bases last year, has 114 stolen bases in 296 major league games — not counting the base he stole in the 2007 World Series that earned everyone in the United States a free taco.
"It's pretty exciting to think about, with all the great Red Sox players that have played before me," said Ellsbury, who asked for the base but got the sense something might be planned. "The big thing with this club is: if you steal you have to succeed at a high rate. As long as they trust you to run, you'd better steal at a high rate."
Jon Lester, who gave up just two hits in the first six innings, earned his fifth no-decision in six starts after allowing Chicago to tie the game with a wild pitch on what would have been an inning-ending strikeout. He retired 12 consecutive batters after Nix's homer before running into bad luck in the seventh.
Chicago failed to score with runners on first and third with nobody out in the eighth when Jermaine Dye popped up to short and A.J. Pierzynski struck out swinging, then Delcarmen got Alex Rios on a fly ball to short center.
"We're really bad with a man on third base and less than two out. Maybe the worst team in baseball right now," Guillen said. "If somebody's worse than us, that's a record."
Lester gave up just three runs on four hits in 62/3 innings. He has allowed more than three earned runs just once in his last 16 starts; in nine of those starts, he has allowed one earned run or none.