July 29th, 2006
Happy return for Martinez
The Associated Press
New York Mets starter Pedro Martinez works in the first inning ofFriday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. Martinez and the Mets were 6-4 winners.
ATLANTA (AP) — Pedro Martinez was a little concerned when he first took the mound, and it showed.
But once he realized that his hip wasn’t going to be a problem, the Atlanta Braves never had a chance.
Martinez surrendered four runs in the first inning but didn’t give up any more, and the New York Mets stretched their already commanding lead in the NL East with a 6-4 victory Friday night.
The right-hander was making his first start for New York since June 28. He then went on the disabled list with an inflamed right hip, which sidelined him for a month.
“You saw in the first two innings that I was a little tentative,” Martinez said. “Would it hurt? Would there still be something wrong? But by the third inning, I let it go and nothing bothered me.”
Martinez (8-4) retired the last 12 hitters he faced before turning it over to the bullpen, which shut down Atlanta without a hit over the final three_innings. Billy Wagner worked the ninth for his 21st save.
The Braves, in fact, didn’t have a hit after Chipper Jones’ leadoff double in the third.
“I’ve seen Pedro do that before,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “When you slap him around a little bit, he usually responds.”
The return of Martinez was another boost for the Mets, who already are well positioned to end Atlanta’s run of 14 straight division titles.
“It seemed like everybody was glad to see me back out there,” he said.
Jose Reyes and David Wright homered for the Mets, who increased their advantage over the Braves to 13 games on a blistering night that drew a record crowd of 53,943 to Turner Field. That broke the Atlanta regular-season mark of 53,775 on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron hit his 715th homer to eclipse Babe Ruth.
The Braves were hoping to make up some ground on the Mets during this weekend series, but now they’ll have to take the last two games to avoid falling further behind.
“We just hit a lot of balls to the warning track all night long and really couldn’t square up a line drive,” manager Bobby Cox said.
After being staked to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, Martinez was pounded in the bottom half. Marcus Giles and Edgar Renteria started with back-to-back single, Chipper Jones walked, and Andruw Jones and doubled in two runs to tie it up.
Martinez finally got an out on Brian McCann’s drive to the warning track, but it was easily far enough for Chipper Jones to tag up and score from third. Jeff Francoeur followed with a double to the gap in left-center, giving the Braves a 4-2 lead.
Martinez finally got out of the inning on two hard-hit balls, Adam LaRoche’s deep fly and Ryan Langerhans’ liner to center.
After that, the Braves hit three more flies to the warning track against Martinez but managed only two more baserunners. Martinez turned things over to the bullpen after throwing 77 pitches — 38 off them in the first two innings.
The Mets quickly rallied against Horacio Ramirez (5-4), who got off to a rough start and never got any better. Martinez sparked a two-run second with a double down the left-field line, his first two-base hit since July 5, 1997. Carlos Beltran tied the game with a two-out, two-run double.
New York went ahead for good in the third and on Jose Valentin’s sacrifice fly, and picked up an insurance run in the seventh. Wright hit his 22nd homer of the season off Oscar Villareal.
Ramirez was yanked in the fourth after his fourth and fifth walks. He pitched from behind during most of his outing, throwing first-pitch strikes to only seven of 21 hitters. He surrendered seven hits in 3 1-3 innings.
“I couldn’t calm myself down,” Ramirez said. “As hard as I tried not to think of it as bigger series than usual, I let my emotions get the best of me.”
Reyes started the game with his fourth leadoff homer this season and sixth of his career. Julio Franco, making his first start since the All-Star break, made it 2-0 with an RBI single off his former team.
The Braves got more bad news in the fifth when Chipper Jones left the game grimacing after grounding out. He re-injured a strained left oblique muscle, which had limited him to only one start over the five previous games, and was listed as day to day.
Notes: After the game, Atlanta acquired reliever Danys Baez and INF Willy Aybar from the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers for INF Wilson Betemit.
Marlins 4, Phillies 1: Rookie Ricky Nolasco didn’t allow a hit through 6 2-3 innings and combined with two relievers for a three-hitter to lead visiting Florida.
Nolasco (9-6) allowed only an infield single off his glove to light-hitting Abraham Nunez and walked five in 7 1-3 innings. The right-hander struck out three and hit one batter.
Chase Utley singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 28 games, the longest in the major leagues this season.
Brett Myers (6-5) gave up one run and five hits, striking out eight in eight innings.
Diamondbacks 8, Astros 7, 11 innings: Luis Gonzalez doubled in the 11th inning off Andy Pettitte and scored on Johnny Estrada’s sacrifice fly for visiting Arizona.
Luke Scott became the first Astros rookie to hit for the cycle, on a night that included a three-run homer and five RBIs. He was the sixth Houston player to hit for the cycle and the first since Craig Biggio in 2002.
Scott singled with two outs in the 11th to finish a 4-for-6 night, but Tony Pena (2-0) got Lance Berkman on a ground out to end the game.
Andy Pettitte (9-11) failed in his first relief appearance since 1998 with the Yankees.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 5: Juan Pierre’s bases-loaded triple highlighted a six-run fourth inning and host Chicago capitalized on a key error by St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen.
Cardinals starter Jason Marquis (12-8) gave up eight hits, walking one and striking out one in 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
Marmol (4-4) walked seven before being pulled with two on and one out in the sixth.
Pirates 3, Giants 0: At Pittsburgh, Kip Wells won for the first time in 10 months, tossing seven-plus shutout innings, allowing five hits while walking three and striking out three.
Wells (1-5) missed almost three months to start this season due to March surgery to repair a blocked artery in his pitching arm.
Barry Bonds went 0-for-4 for the Giants, who have lost a season-high five in a row.
Jason Schmidt (7-7) gave up three runs in six innings.
Reds 4, Brewers 3: At Milwaukee, Ryan Freel doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Eric Milton bounced back from a shaky first with six scoreless innings.
Earlier in the day, Milwaukee dealt All-Star outfielder Carlos Lee to the Texas Rangers after failing to sign him to a contract extension.
Milwaukee is seven games behind Cincinnati in the wild-card race. The Reds have won 10 of 14.
Matt Wise (5-5) lost.
Rockies 3, Padres 1: Byung-Hyun Kim allowed five hits in 7 2-3 innings, baffling visiting San Diego with his stop-and-go delivery, striking out seven in the longest outing of his career. Kim (6-6) got his first win since June 25.
Brian Fuentes pitched the ninth for his 18th save in 22 chances.
Clay Hensley (6-8) hasn’t won a road game since May 14 for San Diego.
Dodgers 13, Nationals 1: At Los Angeles, J.D. Drew ended a 42-game home run drought with his third career grand slam and Cesar Izturis homered for the first time in exactly a year.
The last-place Dodgers snapped an eight-game losing streak and Chad Billingsley (2-3) coasted to his first victory at Dodger Stadium.
Tony Armas Jr. (7-6) lasted only three innings, giving up six runs and seven hits in his third start since coming off the disabled list.
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Dean makes mark on national scene
During the summer there are some athletes who enjoy the break from competitive action, who may attend a sports camp to begin to prepare for the new season around the end of_July.
Meghan Dean is not one of those.
The Marathon Central senior field hockey standout has not seen her home much this summer. In fact, she has been on the road most of the time in and around Virginia Beach.
Dean was named a National High School First Team All-American after her junior season was completed for the Lady Olympians and that was just the beginning of a remarkable spring and summer.
The crowning achievement was trying out for the Elite Performance Training Camp (EPTC) in Maryland. Out of all the athletes attempting to make this elite camp, Dean was one of the final 44 picked. In fact, she is only one of two high school players that were selected for one of the six regional EPTC team. Dean became a member of the Maryland Thundersticks, coached by Missy Meharg and Tjerk van Herwaarden, the head coach and assistant coach at Maryland, the NCAA Division I national champion. Dean was also the only New York State player selected.
“It was awesome,” Dean said. “It was great to play with the Maryland team in the EPTC National Championships. Our team actually won the tournament.
“To be picked as one of the 44 players for the EPTC was great, but it was even more of an honor to be one of the 18 players on the tournament team.”
Dean scored one of goal during the tournament that featured many college and national team players that wrapped up July 4th.
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