Martin's best comes up short against Peavy
Starter outstanding in duel, but one run proves too much
WASHINGTON -- Right-hander J.D. Martin pitched his best game of the season, but the Nationals were blanked by the White Sox, 1-0, at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
Martin pitched six innings and allowed one run on eight hits. He also had a career-high six strikeouts. The lone run was scored in the fourth inning, when Carlos Quentin singled to left to drive in Omar Vizquel with two outs.
"I tried to leave the pitch down and away," Martin said. "It was a full count. I left it up and over the plate and Quentin smoked it. My main thing was not to walk him. I probably should have thrown a cutter there."
For the season, Martin (0-3) has done a respectable job for the Nationals. He has a 3.55 ERA with one walk in 25 1/3 innings.
"J.D. has done a good job," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "That's three ballgames he has given us a chance to win. Today, as he did the last couple of times, he waited a little longer to establish his breaking ball. Then again, when he did establish it, it was a very good pitch for him. He is a pitcher. J.D. is not a thrower. He is kind of perfecting his craft out there."
Meanwhile, the Nationals had no answers for Chicago's Jake Peavy, who allowed three hits and pitched his first complete game of the season despite the fact that he had a sore shoulder earlier in the week.
"The shoulder is OK," Peavy said. "We grind through it. That's part of being a Major League pitcher. You have to grind through certain outings in certain times. You have to take the ball for your team if you are able to and keep rocking on."
It was a game in which Ryan Zimmerman struck out four times against Peavy.
"Today I don't know if Peavy beat me. He practically kicked my [butt]. But it's going to happen," Zimmerman said.
Washington had runners in scoring position twice in the game.
In the first inning, the Nationals had runners on first and second with nobody out, but Zimmerman struck out, while Adam Dunn flied out to center fielder Andruw Jones. With Josh Willingham at the plate, Nyjer Morgan and Cristian Guzman were able to pull off a double steal to put runners on second and third. But Willingham stranded the runners by flying out to center field to end the threat.
Starting with the Zimmerman strikeout in the first inning, Peavy retired 24 of the next 25 hitters he faced. It wasn't until the ninth inning, when Washington came close to ending Peavy's shutout.
A leadoff walk to Morgan and a two-out intentional walk to Dunn brought Willingham back up to the plate. Willingham popped up to second baseman Gordon Beckham to end the game."Peavy threw a great ballgame against us," Riggleman said. "He is a veteran guy, who has the ability to get you off the barrel of the bat. We just didn't square up that many balls against him. He was using the edge of the plate."
Peavy said he was successful because he was often changing speeds on the Nationals and had great defense behind him.
"We had the run stand up. It was pretty fun," Peavy said. "If you throw strikes, you throw [the hitters'] patience out of the game. You have to swing the bats if you are throwing strikes."
In the last five games, the Nats have scored 11 runs and struck out 51 times. But don't look for Riggleman to make any changes to the lineup.
"I feel like we just have to keep running our guys out there," he said. "I don't think there are some options. You always look to give a guy a day off. We are trying to establish our seven or eight guys. We platoon a little bit in right field. I believe in our guys and they are going to get some pitches and start driving them. Hopefully we have some men on base when we do it."
Martin said he did not feel he had to be perfect on the mound. With a lineup that features Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham, Martin feels that the bats will come around.
"They are going to come around and start swinging the bats. I have no doubt. That is not a concern of mine at all," Martin said. "These guys are great. They are going to start swinging it."
Maybe Zimmerman said it best. The hitters have to start supporting the pitchers.
"Depending on who you are facing, you have to step your game up, come through with some hits and start supporting your pitchers," he said. "They have been throwing the ball well. It's not good to waste performances like that. We need to work a little bit harder and come through in the clutch a little bit more."