Martinez Wins In Return For Mets

Tuesday, September 4th 2007, 7:22 am
By: News On 6

Pedro Martinez looked right at home in his return to the mound, the very way Greg Maddux looks start after start after start.

Back in the major leagues for the first time in almost a year, Martinez got his 3,000th career strikeout Monday and led the resurgent New York Mets to a 10-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

``Can't ask for anything better than that,'' Mets manager Willie Randolph said. ``He's amazing. I shouldn't even be surprised, really. Pedro was superb.''

In Arizona, Maddux extended his streak without a walk to 49 1-3 innings over seven starts in leading the San Diego Padres over the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-2.

With their fourth win in five games against the Diamondbacks in eight days, the Padres took a one-game lead over Arizona in the NL West, San Diego's biggest margin since the All-Star break.

``It's a sprint now to the end,'' Padres outfielder Brian Giles said. ``We still want to continue to try to win series, and the first game of a series is always big.''

In other NL games, it was: Los Angeles 11, Chicago 3; Atlanta 5, Philadelphia 1; Colorado 7, San Francisco 4; Houston 9, Milwaukee 7; Pittsburgh 11, St. Louis 0; and Washington 6, Florida 3.

Martinez (1-0) had major shoulder surgery last Oct. 5. He returned after just four rehabilitation appearances in the minors, leaving some questions about his readiness. The Mets decided to put him on a 75-pitch limit that left him no margin for error to get through five innings and get a win.

Somehow, he managed.

At Cincinnati, Martinez threw 76 pitches while limiting the Reds to three runs and five hits in five innings. With two runners aboard in the fifth, Martinez got Adam Dunn _ the last batter he faced _ to hit into a rally-killing groundout.

Then, he pumped his fist.

``Indescribable,'' the three-time Cy Young winner said. ``So far, so good.''

His performance helped the NL East leaders stretch their division lead to five games over Philadelphia.

Martinez's fastball wasn't what it used to be, especially early. The first three pitches registered only 82, 82 and 83 mph. He gave up a pair of runs, then seemed to get over his cautiousness. He threw back-to-back fastballs to Javier Valentin that registered 88 mph, then another that hit 89.

``When he started hitting 88, 89, it was like, 'Here we go again,''' catcher Paul Lo Duca said.

At Phoenix, Maddux won at Chase Field for the first time in 11 career starts.

With first place on the line, the Padres sent Maddux to the mound for his 702nd major league start. Arizona countered with Micah Owings, who made his 24th.

The difference in experience was telling.

``We have guys who have been into Septembers before,'' San Diego manager Bud Black said. ``Obviously, it's a real nice feeling to have a guy like Greg Maddux starting a game for you.''

Showing pinpoint control, Maddux (11-9) kept the free-swinging Diamondbacks off balance all day. He gave up two runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out five. Maddux hasn't issued a walk to 191 batters since Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt earned a free pass in the second inning on July 28 at Houston.

Maddux, who owns a career mark of 344-212, improved to 2-10 against the Diamondbacks. That doesn't include two losses in the 2001 NL championship series when he pitched for Atlanta.

Maddux entered 0-6 with a 5.67 ERA in Chase Field.

``When you've got 340-something wins, to not have one here in this park, it's incredible to me,'' Black said. ``I've only seen him pitch here twice, but he's such a great pitcher it's hard for me to believe. I don't know whether the lack of success here in this park weighs on him. If it did, it didn't show today.''

Braves 5, Phillies 1

At Atlanta, Lance Cormier (2-4) avoided allowing a home run for the first time in seven starts and Brian McCann hit a two-run double in a three-run fourth inning that lifted Atlanta over Philadelphia.

The Phillies are 1-3 since sweeping a four-game series from the New York Mets last week, and fell five games back in the NL East.

Jamie Moyer (12-11) struck out seven but gave up nine hits and four runs in 5 2-3 innings.

Dodgers 11, Cubs 3

At Chicago, Esteban Loaiza _ in his Dodgers' debut _ outpitched Carlos Zambrano (14-12) and helped Los Angeles stay within four games of the NL West lead.

Loaiza (1-0) allowed three runs in seven innings. James Loney paced the offense with three RBIs.

NL Central-leading Chicago maintained a 1 1/2-game lead over Milwaukee and a two-game margin over St. Louis.

Rockies 7, Giants 4

At Denver, Chris Iannetta's two-run triple highlighted a seven-run third inning and Colorado opened a crucial six-game homestand with a win over San Francisco.

Rockies starter Jeff Francis (15-6) went 5 2-3 innings, giving up three runs and nine hits. His 15 wins are the most by a Colorado pitcher since Shawn Estes had that many in 2004.

Colorado's big third inning came mostly at the expense of Giants starter Matt Cain (7-14), who gave up six runs and five hits in the inning before being lifted in favor of Pat Misch.

Astros 9, Brewers 7

At Milwaukee, the Brewers' bullpen gave up a three-run lead in the eighth inning.

Astros rookie Hunter Pence hit a two-run triple during the rally, and the Brewers had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Pirates 11, Cardinals 0

At St. Louis, Ian Snell (9-11) threw seven scoreless innings to win for only the second time in 11 starts and Pittsburgh ended a five-game losing streak by routing Kip Wells (6-16) and St. Louis.

Nationals 6, Marlins 3

At Washington, Jason Bergmann (3-5) struck out nine, and Wily Mo Pena homered to lead Washington over Florida. The Nationals moved one game ahead of Florida at the bottom of the NL East.