READING, Pa. -- For five innings, Pedro Martinez was razor sharp.
He was hitting the corners with his fastball and his offspeed pitches had the Trenton Thunder hitters reaching.
Though Martinez unraveled a little bit in the sixth, he turned in his best performance in three rehab starts with the Phillies organization. On Wednesday before an all-time record crowd of 9,953 at FirstEnergy Stadium, Martinez gave up five hits and four runs (three earned) in six innings. More importantly, he threw 82 pitches, struck out 11 and didn't walk a batter.
With Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and special assistant to the general manager Charley Kerfeld watching from behind home plate, Martinez showed glimpses of his dominating stuff. It was a much more impressive start than his previous one last Friday for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, when he surrendered five runs in five innings in an 84-pitch outing.
Wearing No. 41 for the Reading Phillies, Martinez gave the fans plenty to cheer about as he struck out seven of the first 10 Trenton batters. In the first, however, he allowed a solo home run to Eduardo Nunez over the left-field fence.
"I made a mistake and he hit a bomb," Martinez said.
Martinez retired nine in a row at one point and seemed to be cruising through five. In the fifth inning, he needed only nine pitches to retire Richie Robnett (fly out to center), Edwar Gonzalez (strikeout) and James Cooper (groundout to second).
In the sixth, Martinez did have some tough luck, which included a throwing error by Reading catcher Tim Kennelly as well as a throwing error by right fielder Dominic Brown. Trenton scored three of its four runs in that inning.
But Reading responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to give Martinez a chance to earn a victory.
Win or lose, Martinez was more interested in continuing his trek back to the Major Leagues. He signed with the Phillies on July 15 for about $1 million and was initially placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Martinez's last Major League start was with the Mets on Sept. 25, 2008, when he earned a no-decision against the Cubs with a nine-strikeout performance in six innings. Martinez looked impressive while pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in March as he allowed just one hit over six innings in two appearances.
It's unclear if he will be recalled by the Phillies after his latest rehab start. Martinez, who reached 93 mph in the sixth, said he didn't talk to Amaro after the game.
"No, I haven't, because I'm actually giving you guys priority," Martinez quipped.
Martinez has already earned his Reading teammates' respect.
"Pedro was great, and he just had some bad luck in the sixth inning," said Brown, who slammed a 426-foot solo home run out of the stadium to right in the first inning.
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less