Extra MustardSI On CampusFantasyPhoto GalleriesSwimsuitVideoFanNationSI KidsTNT
Updated: Thursday, September 15, 2005 12:25 AM EDT



  R H E  
Braves 4 11 1 WP: Lidle (11-10)
LP: Ramirez (11-9)  
Phillies 12 15 0
Martinez's slams leads Phils to third straight over Braves

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Ramon Martinez made Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel 's lineup change pay off in a big way in a big game.

Martinez capped an early uprising with his first grand slam in the second inning as the Phillies coasted to a 12-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves .

Philadelphia (78-68), which won the first two games of this series, moved into a tie with Florida (78-68) for the National League wild card lead and crept within five games of Atlanta (83-63) in the East. The Marlins lost to the Houston Astros , 10-2, who are a 1/2 game behind both teams, Wednesday night.

Martinez, acquired from the Detroit Tigers on June 8 with Ugueth Urbina for Placido Polanco , was starting at first base in place of rookie Ryan Howard , who leads all National league rookies with 17 homers and a .536 slugging percentage. With lefthander Horacio Ramirez on the mound for the Braves, Manuel opted to give his lefthanded slugger, who is just 6-for-49 with 24 strikeouts against fellow lefthanders, a night off.

"I was surprised," Martinez said of being in the lineup. "Ryan has been swinging the bat well. I was lucky I got to contribute in a pennant race. It felt good."

After the Phillies scored three times in the first and loaded the bases with one out in the second, the 32-year-old Martinez blew open the game, drilling a 1-1 pitch from Ramirez into the left field seats for his first home run since June 8, 2003 when he went deep for the Chicago Cubs against the New York Yankees .

"That's the one thing about utility guys," said Martinez, who batted eighth in the order. "Whenever you get a chance, just try not to do too much and try to contribute as much as you can. Good things happen.

"Of course (Ramirez) was going to pitch to me, especially me being a guy who plays once a week. I just was trying to put a good swing on the ball."

Martinez tied his career high with four RBI, which he also accomplished July 26, 2002 against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he was with San Francisco.

Martinez, along with David Bell and Mike Lieberthal , combined to give the bottom of the Phillies' order a 7-for-13 night with seven RBI and five runs.

"The bottom of the lineup is very important," Bell said. "It takes different guys every night and I think that's happened the last couple of weeks."

Atlanta staged a brief rally against Phillies starter Cory Lidle with two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to cut its deficit to 7-3, but Jimmy Rollins doubled home a run and Jason Michaels singled in a pair to push the margin to 10-3 after five frames. Michaels hit his fourth homer of the season in the seventh.

Rollins, who had three hits, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games. It is the longest by a Phillie since Lenny Dykstra hit in 23 straight in 1990.

"He stepped up and he's getting hot at the right time," Manuel said. "He's a very energetic player and brings a lot of life to our team. That's why he's our leadoff hitter."

Lidle (11-10) yielded three runs and seven hits in five innings to improve to 4-0 all-time against Atlanta. It was the second straight start in which the offense scored 12 runs for him.

"Twenty-four (runs) in the last two games, not bad," Lidle said. "It takes a lot of pressure off, knowing if you make a mistake, you still have a lead. It makes it a lot easier to pitch."

Ramirez (11-9) continued his struggles against the Phillies and on the road. He was tagged for seven runs and eight hits in three innings to drop to 1-3 against the Phillies this season and 3-8 on the road. Ramirez has yielded 20 runs in 10 1/3 innings in his last three games against Philadelphia.

Ramirez was victimized in the Phillies' first when Marcus Giles made an errant toss on a potential inning-ending doubleplay grounder that kept the inning alive and led to Philadelphia taking a 3-0 lead.

"Just a rough night for Ramirez, really," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "It started in the first inning. The ball got stuck in Giles' glove and all of a sudden they've got three runs and I thought Ramirez pitched super in the first inning.

"And then the grand slam is the one that killed him and boom, 7-0 quick."

Andruw Jones belted his major league-leading 50th homer and his 300th career in the eighth inning for Atlanta.

"A lot of people don't get a chance to hit that many home runs," Jones said. "I didn't really enjoy it that much, because we lost. We just have to look forward to start playing better and try to put these last three days behind us."

divider line