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Martinez roughed up as Braves pound Mets again

Sep 28, 2006 - 2:25 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The New York Mets will be in the playoffs next week. Whether they will have their ace at the top of his game is questionable.

Pedro Martinez continued to struggle and was shelled for seven runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings as the Mets were routed by the Atlanta Braves, 13-1.

It has been a rough second half for Martinez (9-8), a three-time Cy Young Award winner who spent two stints on the disabled list with an inflamed right hip and a strained right calf. Since the righthander's return from his latest stint on the DL on September 15, he has been ineffective, allowing eight runs in eight innings of two losses.

Martinez has been penciled in to start Game One of the National League Division Series for New York. After his latest performance, that start - and the Mets' subsequent postseason success - may be in jeopardy.

"I can't really rush into anything," Martinez said of his next start. "I need to first try to work. If I see I can't do it, I will (shut it down). I must try. ... They can't count me out. I at least hope I'm able to at least be a part of the team. It's all going to depend on how healthy I can be."

"We need to continue to play the game," Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran said. "It doesn't matter who's on the mound. We prefer him to be here helping us out. But we believe in every single guy on our ballclub."

Martinez, who consistently topped off his pitches in the low 90s, struggled with his command as well as his velocity as he did not break 88 miles per hour on the radar gun.

"(Coming back from the injury) is a lot harder than you think," Martinez said. "I thought the calf was a muscle or something. But the calf is everything when you pitch."

Atlanta plated a run in the second against Martinez on a walk to Andruw Jones and a double by Brian McCann before batting around to chase him in the third.

Marcus Giles led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and only took third on a double by Edgar Renteria. Chipper Jones plated Giles with a single and Renteria scored on a fielder's choice by Andruw Jones.

McCann smashed a 2-0 offering from Martinez into the left center-field bleachers for his 24th homer to give Atlanta a 5-0 lead. Roommate Jeff Francoeur hit his 27th homer to almost the same place.

It was the ninth time the Braves have hit back-to-back homers this season and the first time that the roommates have done it in the same major league game.

"It was pretty cool," Francoeur said. "Hopefully, we'll have more of that in the future."

Martinez settled down to strike out rookie first baseman Scott Thorman. But his success was short-lived as he surrendered a single to Ryan Langerhans before Atlanta starter Tim Hudson ended Martinez's night with a run-scoring double.

The 34-year-old Martinez allowed seven runs, eight hits and two walks with only one strikeout. It was the most runs he had allowed since giving up eight to former club Boston on June 28.

"(The Braves) were very aggressive," Martinez said. "I was leaving a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate."

"He's still Pedro Martinez," Francoeur said. "He can still pitch a shutout any day he wants. We got him on a night where he got behind in the count and we were able to hit him."

Hudson (13-12) allowed one run and four hits in six-plus innings, struck out two and walked three to improve to 100-17 when his club scores more than four runs.

"It was nice to come out and have a good showing against these guys," Hudson said. "Hopefully, we can finish strong and end things on a positive note."

Chipper Jones connected for his 25th homer, a two-run shot in the sixth. Francoeur followed three batters later with a two-run shot, his second of the game.

Thorman capped the scoring with a solo shot for Atlanta, which has outscored New York, 25-1, in the first two games of the series.

"It's always fun to beat the Mets," Francoeur said. "But no matter what they do the next four games, they're going to go (to the playoffs), where we want to be."

Shawn Green drove in the lone run with an RBI groundout in the fourth for New York, which has dropped 10 of its last 13 games.

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