Bats do in Pedro, Phillies in Atlanta

Bats do in Pedro, Phillies in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- Pedro Martinez has never been a fan of swinging a baseball bat.

His opinion has not changed, certainly not after pulling a muscle on the right side of his neck while swinging at an 0-2 curveball in the second inning Saturday in a 6-4 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. The muscle tightened to the point that he could not pitch after throwing a warmup toss in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Martinez, who left the game after allowing three runs in three innings, said he is hopeful his neck will be fine before Friday's start against the Brewers at Miller Park.

"Everybody gets that sometimes, even from sleeping on a pillow," he said. "I hope mine is not any worse than that. I felt it pinch when I threw that pitch to warm up. I don't want to aggravate my arm or something like that. I don't want to take chances."

The Phillies have lost several pitchers to injuries. Martinez and J.A. Happ have hurt themselves swinging a bat. Left-handers Scott Eyre, J.C. Romero and Jack Taschner are hurt. Right-hander Clay Condrey pitched Saturday for the first time since July because of a strained oblique muscle.

"I said last night not to get hurt," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Evidently they're not listening."

But the fact that Martinez injured himself after throwing 119 pitches in 6 2/3 innings Sept. 8 against the Nationals and 130 pitches Sunday in eight scoreless innings against the Mets was bound to raise questions, even if he injured his neck swinging a bat.

He had not thrown 119 or more pitches since Sept. 16, 2005, when he threw 122 against the Braves. He had not thrown 130 or more pitches since May 1, 2001, when he threw 136 against the Mariners. He had not had consecutive starts with that much work since May 24-30, 2001, against the Yankees, when he threw 120 and 121 pitches, respectively.

Martinez missed much of the remainder of 2001 with right shoulder problems.

"My arm is really good. It's fine. It's perfectly fine," Martinez said. "I was totally positive. I didn't feel quite as strong as I would like to, but you could see my fastball -- I could click it when I wanted. I got to 90, 91 [mph] or whatever. I was able to pitch. I just got ambushed in the pitching sequence. They read pretty good that I was going to go a little bit soft."

Martinez threw more offspeed pitches than he had in his previous starts. Nearly half his pitches Sunday against the Mets were fastballs, but just 17 of his 56 pitches Saturday were fastballs.

"I figured that out too late," Martinez said. "I had already given up three. I figured they were sitting offspeed, and I when I started to use the fastball, I was already three down."

Phillies catcher Paul Bako said he thought Martinez was just starting to get into a groove before the neck stiffened up.

"He started to really command the heater with some life and some pop on it," Bako said. "I believe he was about to throw about three or four more shutout innings, because he was really starting to get out there and command and finish his fastball, where early he was trying to get a good feel for things."

Braves right-hander Javier Vazquez held the Phillies to just three hits in seven shutout innings. The Phillies rallied in the ninth, but it came too late.

Chase Utley hit a leadoff single in the ninth, and Ryan Howard followed with a two-run homer to cut the Braves' lead to 6-2. Matt Stairs hit a pinch-hit double and Raul Ibanez walked, but the Phillies were down to their last out after Pedro Feliz fouled out to third baseman Chipper Jones and pinch-hitter Shane Victorino struck out swinging.

Greg Dobbs singled to right to score pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett, and Jimmy Rollins laced a single to left to score Ibanez to make it 6-4 before Ben Francisco flied out to right field to end the game.

It was Martinez's 100th career loss. He is 219-100.

"That's just a number," he said. "If you didn't tell me today, I wouldn't have realized it. I would just go home, try to get some sleep and take a muscle relaxer and forget about it. It's a loss. A loss is a loss. To lose 100 games in the big leagues is a great honor, to be honest. It's a great honor. Many people don't even get the opportunity to lose even three games or two games or maybe none. I'm a very blessed man to be able to do that. I've accomplished a lot of wins, too."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.