In his first start since coming off the disabled list, New York Mets right-hander Pedro Martinez needed a little time to start feeling comfortable again on the mound. After that, he was nearly unhittable.
Martinez looks to turn in another strong start when the Mets (64-42) wrap up their three-game series with the Florida Marlins (50-57) Thursday at Dolphin Stadium.
Martinez (8-4, 3.59 ERA) returned to the mound for the first time in a month Friday, and allowed four first-inning runs at Atlanta. However, he settled down nicely after that, throwing five shutout innings and earning a 6-4 victory.
“You saw in the first two innings that I was a little tentative,” said Martinez, who had been on the DL with an inflamed right hip. “Would it hurt? Would there still be something wrong? But by the third inning, I let it go and nothing bothered me.”
Martinez lost four of six decisions over seven starts before going on the DL, posting a 4.39 ERA over that span. He threw 77 pitches against the Braves, retiring the last 12 batters he faced.
Martinez even hit his first double since July 5, 1997.
“To have him back and healthy boosts the confidence in the clubhouse,” teammate David Wright said. “He anchors our rotation. It’s good to have him back.”
Martinez is 5-5 with a 2.68 ERA in 18 career appearances, including 14 starts, against the Marlins. He is 4-2 with a 1.57 ERA in eight appearances in Miami, and gave up two runs in seven innings of a 5-1 loss at Dolphin Stadium on May 26.
Martinez will be opposed by Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis (6-8, 4.27) in the series finale. Willis allowed a season high-tying eight runs, six earned, in just 2 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 12-3 loss at Philadelphia.
The outing was his shortest since lasting just an inning against San Francisco on April 30, 2004. Willis, who gave up seven runs in the third inning Saturday, is 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA over his last four starts.
“It was one of those days,” Willis said. “I’ve been throwing the ball well, until up to today. It’s not discouraging. It’s how the game is.”
Willis has fared well against the Mets, going 9-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 14 starts.
The Marlins lost for the fourth time in six games on Wednesday, falling 6-5 after the Mets took a 6-0 lead in the third inning. They committed a season high-tying four errors, leading to two unearned runs.
“We keep fighting,” Ramirez said. “It’s 27 outs.”
New York closer Billy Wagner allowed two batters to reach base before recording three strikeouts to earn the save Wednesday. He gave up a game-winning two-run homer the night before in New York’s 6-5 loss.
“To go back out there and try to get it done, that’s the name of the game,” Wagner said.
The Mets, who own the best record in the NL, have won five of their last six games.