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10/16/09 9:22 PM ET

Pedro masterful in return to big stage

Veteran gives Phillies seven shutout innings after layoff

LOS ANGELES -- For seven brilliant innings, Pedro Martinez demonstrated the pitching mastery that will one day almost certainly earn him enshrinement in Cooperstown.

He may be 37 years old, he is no longer overpowering and he has had to deal with four years of injuries. But on Friday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, he was smooth, crisp and in total control for the Phillies and for longer than some expected. He just didn't come away with a victory.

Martinez pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and no walks with three strikeouts. He left with a 1-0 lead before the Dodgers rallied in the bottom of the eighth for a 2-1 victory over the Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

Martinez was pitching for the first time since Sept. 30. He was starting a postseason game for the first time since Game 3 of the 2004 World Series when he was still with the Red Sox. Neither layoff seemed to matter.

"I was very pleased with the way everything went, especially since it had been 17 days since I had been on the mound," Martinez said afterward. "Putting my team in position to win was my main goal and I did that."

Martinez threw 87 pitches on a sunny afternoon at Dodger Stadium with a game-time temperature of 93 degrees. The Phillies weren't expecting more than that, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel pinch-hit for Martinez in the top of the eighth while sitting on that one-run lead.

Then the Dodgers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning and Manuel was immediately asked afterward why not let Martinez go deeper into the game.

"He was gone," Manuel said. "I mean, I think he was spent. We got seven innings out of him. When the game started, I was looking anywhere from 70 to 85 pitches, maybe 90 at the most or something. He was up to what, 87, 88, and believe me, it was a hot day, and he hadn't pitched in 17 days.

"Actually he did a tremendous job, and he took it actually maybe farther than I anticipated when the game started. To me, Pedro was done."

Pedro Martinez was as sharp as ever in his 14th postseason appearance and 12th start -- his first since 2004. Including Friday, he has eight quality starts in postseason play:
Year Round Opp IP ER Dec
1998 DS CLE 7.0 3 W
1999 LCS NYY 7.0 0 W
2003 DS1 OAK 7.0 3 ND
2003 DS5 OAK 7.0 3 ND
2004 DS LAA 7.0 3 W
2004 LCS NYY 6.0 3 L
2004 WS STL 7.0 0 W
2009 LCS LAD 7.0 0 ND
Martinez, who has been dealing with shoulder problems and a variety of other ailments the past four years, agreed with the decision.

"My at-bat was up," Martinez said. "Normally Charlie has been pinch-hitting for me there. I felt pretty fresh but at that point, after 17 days, pushing it like that is a little risky. I would have liked to have pitched the eighth or finish the game, but if I go back out there and get hurt, then that's not good."

The series isn't over. Martinez should get another start with the extra day off between Games 4 and 5 in Philadelphia. Game 5 is not until Wednesday and Martinez could pitch that game on four days' rest.

"Pedro pitched a tremendous game," Manuel said. "We have no problem with him pitching anymore. I don't think that's a problem at all."

The Dodgers should be the ones worried about facing him again. Russell Martin had a single in the third. Matt Kemp beat out an infield hit in the fourth but was thrown out trying to steal. Martinez -- speaking of vintage flashes of the past -- hit Martin with a pitch in the sixth.

That was it. Martinez faced 23 batters and only three reached base.

"Pedro is that kind of pitcher," Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez said after going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. "He doesn't have to throw 95 to get people out and he reminded people that today."

NL Championship Series
Gm. 1 PHI 8, LAD 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 LAD 2, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 PHI 11, LAD 0 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 PHI 5, LAD 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 10, LAD 4 Wrap Video

"I was just attacking the strike zone," Martinez said. "I knew I couldn't try to do too much or overpower people. I can't do that anymore. I was attacking the strike zone, being aggressive and mixing my pitches, focusing on every pitch. It worked pretty well."

He was pitching with little margin for error because Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla was almost as good, allowing only a home run to Ryan Howard in the fourth. But Dodgers manager Joe Torre had seen this many times before when he was leading the Yankees and Martinez was dealing for the Red Sox.

"I marvel," Torre said. "As much as you always hated anybody with a Red Sox uniform on, you always admired how well he did his job. He was a little bit like [Greg] Maddux. Their stuff isn't similar, but he seems to be able to read the hitter. His ability to throw a handful of different pitches with varying speeds, I mean, that's what the game is all about, just being able to upset the timing.

"Even though he doesn't have the same velocity he once did, he did a masterful job today."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.