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Pedro upstaged by rookie Sanchez in Marlins' win

NEW YORK (AP) -- Pedro Martinez never looked close to tears in
his latest playoff tuneup. He never really looked like his old
self, either.

The New York Mets' ace was certainly more comfortable on the
mound Thursday night, but he was outpitched by Florida rookie
Anibal Sanchez in the Marlins' 5-2 victory.

"This is what I wanted, regardless of what the results might
be," Martinez said. "I got the innings and I got command of my
pitches. That's what I needed."

Miguel Olivo and Hanley Ramirez each drove in two runs during a
four-run fifth against Martinez, and Sanchez (9-3) worked seven
strong innings to win for the fifth time in six decisions.

Florida won its second consecutive game following a four-game
slide that hurt its postseason chances. The Marlins open a
three-game series Friday night in Philadelphia, which is a
half-game behind NL wild card-leading Los Angeles. Florida is four
back of the Dodgers, who beat the Pirates 5-2 Thursday night.

"Two wins in a row was nice. But we need to beat Philly, that's
the bottom line," manager Joe Girardi said.

New York already clinched the NL East title earlier this week,
so Martinez (9-7) is just trying to get healthy and sharp in time
to lead a suspect rotation in October. He's expected to make only
one more regular-season start, next Wednesday in Atlanta.

"I'm really close," he said. "I'm going to push it in the
playoffs."

The three-time Cy Young Award winner had a disappointing outing
in Pittsburgh last Friday night, his first since missing a month
with a strained right calf, and was nearly in tears in the dugout
after lasting only three innings.

"The first outing, I felt like I had no knowledge of what was
going to happen after the first inning," he said.

But the 34-year-old right-hander got off to a good start in this
one. He faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings, striking
out five, and got help from his defense in the form of a double
play and two diving catches in the outfield.

"I'm extremely happy with the way everything went. I hit a
little bit of a wall in the fifth inning," Martinez said.
"Everything seems to be coming along just like I expected."

Still, Martinez's mixed comments were difficult to read -- as
they often are. He also said he was more "cautious" on the mound
this time, which he considered wise, and he got "a little stiff,
but not bad."

Furthermore, he definitely doesn't appear to be pushing off the
rubber with the same thrust as usual.

"He does not look completely healthy," Girardi said. "His arm
spot looked a little lower to me tonight, but when it comes to
knowing how to pitch, Pedro knows how to pitch."

Martinez's goal is to give the Mets seven solid innings in the
postseason. With their bullpen, he said, that should be enough.

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"From five to seven, that's not much of a difference," he
said. "I felt like I could've done a lot more. You don't want to
rush anything."

Martinez ran into trouble in the fifth, when he gave up four
hits and hit a batter with a pitch. Yet few balls were hit hard
against him, and he struck out seven over five innings before
leaving for a pinch hitter.

Martinez yielded four runs -- three earned -- and one walk,
throwing 52 of 87 pitches for strikes. He is 2-4 with a 7.47 earned-run average in
seven starts since June 28.

"He looked a lot better than the last time out," Mets manager
Willie Randolph said. "He had that nice feel and presence about
him. He was out there competing. So that was very encouraging."

Sanchez allowed two runs -- one earned -- and seven hits in his
third start since a no-hitter against Arizona on Sept. 6. He's
beaten the Mets twice in those three outings.

Taylor Tankersley pitched a scoreless inning, and Joe Borowski
got three quick outs for his 36th save in 43 chances.

Wes Helms added an RBI double in the eighth for Florida.

Carlos Delgado's RBI single in the fourth gave Martinez a 1-0
lead, and Endy Chavez had a run-scoring single in the fifth.

Game notes
Florida 3B Miguel Cabrera sat out for the second
consecutive game because of a strained left shoulder. ... Ramirez
nicked his right index finger while trying to bunt in the seventh.
He came out in the eighth. ... Mets CF Carlos Beltran was out of
the lineup again. He said he underwent an MRI exam on Wednesday and
has a minor strain in his upper left quadriceps. "Just regular
banged-up stuff," Randolph said before the game. "Nothing
major." ... New York C Paul Lo Duca also sat out with a sore left
thumb that's bothered him for much of the season. Kelly Stinnett
started behind the plate. ... The Mets reached a two-year agreement
to make New Orleans in the Pacific Coast League their Triple-A
affiliate, ending a long relationship with Norfolk, Va.