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Martin, Phils bats falter in loss to Braves

Rookie right-hander, a native of Georgia, allows three runs on six hits

ATLANTA -- Rookie Ethan Martin grew up in Toccoa, Ga., about 90 minutes from Turner Field.

That made him a big Braves fan.

Full Game Coverage

ATLANTA -- Rookie Ethan Martin grew up in Toccoa, Ga., about 90 minutes from Turner Field.

That made him a big Braves fan.

Full Game Coverage

Martin attended Braves games as a kid, but Monday, when the Phillies opened a three-game series in Atlanta, was the first time he set foot on Turner Field. That made Tuesday the first time he stepped onto the same mound from which legends Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz once pitched. The 24-year-old collected his nerves the best he could but made a few mistakes along the way in a 3-1 loss to the Braves.

"I thought I was going to be more amped up or [have more] butterflies," Martin said. "It wasn't that bad. I was kind of surprised."

Martin, who left tickets for 18 family members and friends, made his big league debut against the Braves on Aug. 2 at Citizens Bank Park. He not only had to battle the nerves that come from a big league debut that night, he had to fight the fact that he was pitching against the team he loved as a kid.

Martin allowed eight hits, six runs, three walks and struck out six in 4 1/3 innings in that 6-4 loss. He fared better on Tuesday, allowing six hits, three runs, two walks and striking out six in five innings.

Martin is pitching in place of right-hander Jonathan Pettibone, who is on the disabled list. It is a tryout of sorts, although there is a chance that the Phillies could move Martin into the bullpen next season. He has a blistering fastball, which could play well if he can throw strikes.

"I'm just trying to leave a good impression," Martin said. "Of course I want to be here and do good. Whatever they have planned, I just want to leave a good impression with them."

Martin fell behind 14 of the 23 batters he faced on Tuesday. He allowed a run in the second inning when he fell behind, 3-1, to Braves pitcher Kris Medlen, who two pitches later ripped a ball over the head of right fielder Darin Ruf head to plate Tyler Pastornicky.

"The one thing that really killed me was Medlen," Martin said.

Ruf, who is playing right field for the first time in his career, got a bad read on the ball, though he recovered later with a nice diving catch in the seventh.

"It's kind of tough, because he hasn't played there," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He hasn't played left field a lot. You have to give him a pass until he gets some experience. If you put him out there, you can't expect him to be perfect. Sometimes you can go two or three days and you get by, then all of a sudden, you make a mistake. That's what happens when you experiment with a guy like that."

Braves third baseman Chris Johnson hit a two-run homer to left field in the third inning to make it 3-0 when Martin missed his spot on a 2-1 fastball. He wanted to go inside but did not get inside enough.

"Martin battled them," Manuel said. "He stayed in there with them. He was aggressive. He went right at them. He was having some command problems. He was max effort, running some balls up, and got into deep counts. ... I see a young guy. He's a max-effort guy. When you watch him, you probably think of a bullpen piece. A strong arm in the 'pen. That's what runs through your mind. He has a tight breaking ball. But he's young. He has some time to see if he can start. It's not the time to push him back in the bullpen."

"He's got real good stuff," Johnson said. "He kind of makes you be short, he's got a lot of life on his fastball, he throws the split, he throws a slider, curveball. So you've just got to try to be short with him, get something out over the plate and try to barrel it up. He's pretty good."

The Phillies scored their only run in the sixth inning, as Medlen retired 15 consecutive batters at one point. Chase Utley doubled and scored on Domonic Brown's single to right, but Brown tried to stretch the single into a double and was easily thrown out at second to end the inning.

"He was trying to do too much, trying to make something happen," Manuel said. "Sometimes, when you're not winning, that's what you do. He was trying to do too much. He wanted to be aggressive and be in scoring position."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for


Philadelphia Phillies, Ethan Martin