SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—It might be a little while before Pedro Martinez returns to his dominant old self. He took a big first step just by getting back on the mound, then went out and won.
The 36-year-old Martinez came off the disabled list to make his second 2008 start Tuesday night for the New York Mets in a 9-6 victory over the San Francisco Giants, more than two months after leaving his first start of the year April 1 with a hamstring injury.
“I’m thankful to be back. I hope I can stay a little longer,” Martinez said. “It was a while back (the last outing), especially with all the distractions I had off the field, which made it even tougher. … I still feel like every time I’m given the ball I have the same responsibility, to set an example.”
Martinez (1-0) even got to celebrate a pair of singles and an RBI that helped his cause and improved his line, which read: six innings, seven hits, three runs, three walks and three strikeouts on 109 pitches. He received a standing ovation when he walked off the mound after the sixth to finish his night, then was greeted with a hug from catcher Ramon Castro in the dugout. The pitcher sat down and was all smiles.
“That’s the way you draw it up,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “Pedro, he never ceases to amaze you.”
His two hits matched his career high, the third time he’s done it and the first since Aug. 3, 1997, against San Diego while with the Montreal Expos.
“I think the biggest thing is he pitched with his fastball all night,” pitching coach Rick Peterson said. “He maintained his velocity through the game. It was a big night for him and for our team. I think we’re all just excited. Any time you’ve got Pedro and (Johan) Santana, you’ve got two aces— the ace of hearts and the ace of diamonds.”
Damion Easley hit a three-run double in his second plate appearance during New York’s eight-run fifth, much to delight of the large contingent of Mets supporters among the 35,233 fans who watched in the Giants’ waterfront ballpark on a chilly June night. First-pitch temperature was 57 degrees. The eight-run inning was New York’s most productive since getting 11 in the sixth at the Chicago Cubs on July 16, 2006.
Martinez recorded his first strikeout when he fanned Randy Winn in the third on an 80 mph off-speed pitch.
The right-hander allowed a single up the middle to leadoff batter Fred Lewis on his second pitch of the night. He got Ray Durham to fly out then Winn followed with an RBI double to left in a 21-pitch first inning.
Martinez more than kept his team in the game in a pitching matchup featuring a pair of former Cy Young Award winners in Martinez and Barry Zito, who was knocked out after only 4 1-3 innings. Randolph let Martinez go deep in the game, checking on him from time to time.
“I felt really good,” Martinez said. “Willie asked me a couple times and by the time I got pitching I forgot, and got away with it.”
Carlos Beltran hit a go-ahead RBI double in the fifth and Ryan Church followed with a sacrifice fly for New York, which bounced back from a 10-2 loss in the series opener Monday after the team’s cross country flight following a Sunday night game at Shea Stadium. Carlos Delgado added an RBI single in the fifth.
Zito (1-9), who began the season 0-8, lost for the first time in his three career starts versus New York after getting two victories in 2007 during his initial year in the National League. He allowed six runs, five earned, on seven hits in 4 1-3 innings, walked five and struck out one.
“I just think walking guys was the downfall tonight—walking guys, falling behind,” Zito said. “I was working out of jams most of the night. For the most part I was just trying to be too fine and not attacking the zone. I just have to put this behind me and keep going.”
The Mets went ahead 1-0 in the first on a sacrifice fly by David Wright— the only player in the majors to play every inning so far this season—but San Francisco tied it in the bottom half on Winn’s 17th double.
New York’s Jose Reyes had his 18-game hitting streak snapped. But he did reach base twice on errors, the 34th straight game he reached base.
That is the longest single-season streak by the leadoff batter in club history, passing Darryl Strawberry’s 33 in a row from April 25-June 1, 1987. John Olerud reached in 47 straight games spanning the 1998 and ’99 seasons.
San Francisco’s Aaron Rowand had his 10-game hitting streak but he drove in a run on a groundout.
Martinez and Zito matched up for the second time in their careers. Zito was the fourth former Cy Young Award winner faced by the Mets so far this season. … After his leadoff hit in the first, Lewis stole his 11th base. … Randolph rested 2B Luis Castillo and gave Easley the start. … San Francisco RHP Kevin Correia allowed one run and three hits in five innings for Triple-A Fresno in a rehab outing Tuesday against Tucson as part of his recovery from a strained left side muscle. Correia struck out seven, didn’t walk a batter and threw 64 pitches.