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August 14, 2009

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Martinez triumphs on Phillies debut

PEDRO Martinez made a victorious return to the mound behind a potent offense to help the Philadelphia Phillies storm to a 12-5 thrashing of the Chicago Cubs in his first start with his new team on Wednesday.

Pitching for the first time since ending a four-year stint with the New York Mets last September, the three-time Cy Young Award winner worked his way through five innings, striking out five batters while allowing three runs. He threw 99 pitches.

"It was really fun to get back to the game," Martinez told reporters. "Last year was a horrible year. (Now) I'm healthy and I'm going to improve. I expect to improve."

Martinez, who has battled a spate of injuries in recent years and is returning from a shoulder ailment, filed for free agency after last season and was signed by the Phillies on July 15.

As the 37-year-old Martinez enjoyed a successful return to his familiar place as a starting pitcher, Chicago youngster Jeff Samardzija was battered by the World Series champions in his first career start. Samardzija (1-2) had made 42 relief appearances the last two seasons.

Elsewhere in the National League, it was: Mets 6, Diamondbacks 4; Giants 4, Dodgers 2 (in 10 innings); Astros 14, Marlins 6; Braves 6, Nationals 2; Padres 6, Brewers 5; Cardinals 5, Reds 2; and Rockies 8, Pirates 0.

Leave the game

In the American League, it was: Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3 (in 11 innings); Athletics 6, Orioles 3; Angels 10, Rays 5; Rangers 5, Indians 0; Red Sox 8, Tigers 2; Twins 7, Royals 1; and Mariners 1, White Sox 0 (in 14 innings).

In Chicago, Philadelphia (63-48) scored eight runs in the fourth inning, forcing Samardzija to leave the game after being charged with seven runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez both hit three-run homers in the fourth after Shane Victorino had a two-run shot in the third to help consign the Cubs (58-54) to a fourth straight loss and sixth in their last seven contests.

Chicago is struggling with starting pitchers Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano on the disabled list as well as third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

"They hit (Samardzija) hard," Cubs manager Lou Piniella conceded. "That's going to happen when you have two starters on the (disabled list). This is a tough lineup. This is a world championship team you're talking about."

Philadelphia returned to championship form one night after squeaking out a win against Chicago despite recording just three hits. This time around, Philadelphia tallied 14 hits with every starter reaching base safely besides Martinez.

For his part, the wily Martinez allowed hits in the first three innings and got into a no-out bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning but escaped with minimum damage on his way to his 215th career win.


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