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Pedro rocked again in final regular-season start

ATLANTA -- Pedro Martinez hardly looks ready for the
playoffs.

The New York Mets' ace was rocked again in his final start of
the regular season, giving up eight hits, seven runs and two homers
in 2 2/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

Martinez, who recently spent a month on the disabled list with a
strained right calf, was in danger of his third straight loss since
being activated and fourth in a row overall. He was yanked after
giving up a run-scoring double to fellow pitcher Tim Hudson, who
gave the Braves a 7-0 lead.

Manager Willie Randolph walked slowly to the mound and had a
brief chat with Martinez. Third baseman David Wright tried to perk
up the pitcher, patting him several times on his right shoulder
before he trudged to the dugout.

The poor outing throws into question how the NL East champion
Mets will set up their rotation for the playoffs, which begin next
week with the best-of-five division series. Tom Glavine and Orlando
Hernandez are set to start, but Randolph had hoped to use Martinez
in Game 1.

The Mets may have to go with another option. Martinez has a
16.97 earned-run average over his last four starts, giving up 22 hits and 20
earned runs in 11 2/3 innings.

Martinez insisted a day earlier that he was over his calf
problem, but he sure didn't pitch like it. Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur hit back-to-back homers in a six-run third that knocked
out the right-hander, who never appeared to get comfortable. He
went behind the mound several times to clean mud out of his cleats,
and also fiddled frequently with the resin bag.

The Braves went down 1-2-3 in the first, though Chipper Jones
gave a glimpse of things to come when he hit a drive to center that
was caught on the warning track by Carlos Beltran.

Andruw Jones started the second with a walk and came around to
score on Brian McCann's double, which rolled to the wall in
right-center.

The Braves blew it open in the third. Marcus Giles led off with
a single, Edgar Renteria doubled and Chipper Jones hit a
run-scoring single to right. Andruw Jones grounded into a forceout,
driving in another run, and McCann followed with a two-run shot
over the wall in left-center on a 2-0 pitch.

Martinez then fell behind to Francoeur, who drove another one
over the wall in nearly the same spot on a 3-1 breaking ball that
hung over the plate. Scott Thorman struck out swinging, but Ryan
Langerhans singled to right and Hudson drove one all the way to the
wall in left-center for a run-scoring double.

That was it for Martinez, who was replaced by Darren Oliver. He
got out of the inning by fanning Giles, the 10th hitter to come up
in the third.