New York Mets ace Pedro Martinez looks to remain undefeated since coming off the disabled list when NL East-leading New York opens a four-game series against the second-place Philadelphia Phillies on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.
Martinez (9-4, 3.42 ERA) is 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA and a .179 opponent batting average in three starts since he spent a month on the DL with right hip inflammation.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner earned the win in the Mets’ 4-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. He lasted 7 1-3 innings—his longest outing since his return—allowing two runs and three hits, two of them homers by Mike Piazza, who caught him with the Mets last season.
“I felt confident with the way Pedro was throwing,” Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca said. “Mike had some big swings.”
Piazza became the fifth player to have a multihomer game off Martinez. The fourth to do so was Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who had two of Philadelphia’s four home runs off the right-hander last Aug. 31 at Shea Stadium, a game the Mets (71-45) lost 8-2.
Utley is 4-for-14 (.286) in his career versus Martinez with the two homers, one double, two walks and three strikeouts. He has fared far better than Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell, who is 0-for-17 with seven strikeouts lifetime against the right-hander.
Martinez is 7-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 20 career appearances, including 16 starts, against Philadelphia. He allowed three runs in seven innings on May 9 in his only previous visit to Citizens Bank Park, but did not factor in the decision of New York’s 5-4 defeat.
The Mets have won five of their last six meetings with the Phillies (56-60), including a three-game sweep June 13-15 at Philadelphia.
New York is also seeking its eighth victory in nine games overall after Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals. Michael Tucker broke a tie in the eighth inning by homering against the same club which released him in spring training.
“(Sunday’s game) was one of those days where you kind of feel like you stole one,” New York manager Willie Randolph said. “Real good teams do that.”
Meanwhile, Philadelphia continues to struggle to play like a good team. The Phillies fell 7-5 in 11 innings to the NL wild card leaders, the Cincinnati Reds, on Sunday. Philadelphia has dropped five of eight after opening August with a four-game winning streak, and trails the Reds by four games.
Left-hander Cole Hamels (4-6, 4.97) looks to rebound from a tough loss when he takes the mound against Martinez. The 22-year-old rookie limited the Atlanta Braves to one run over six innings last Tuesday, but got outdueled by Tim Hudson in a 3-1 defeat.
Hamels has allowed just five runs and 14 hits in 20 1-3 innings in his last three starts, while striking out 25.
“I feel comfortable out there,” said Hamels, who has never faced the Mets. “I feel like I’m meant to be out there. I feel like my routine is down. I think I feel more focused after a couple months (of not being injured).”