Martinez settles in nicely in front of family, friends

Martinez settles in nicely in front of family, friends

MIAMI -- Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez survived the first two innings of a 4-3 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night. As for his final five frames, the Dominican Republic native regrouped and collected himself just in time to earn a victory in front of a large number of family and friends at Marlins Park.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players

"The first two innings, I felt down," Martinez said. "But the third inning, I felt so great with the changeup and the two-seam [fastball] and all my pitches."

In all, the 23-year-old went seven innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits and nine strikeouts to improve to 8-3 with a 2.89 ERA on the season.

All of his earned runs on Tuesday came in the first two innings, with Giancarlo Stanton hitting a monster two-run home run in the first and Adeiny Hechavarria hitting an RBI single in the second. It was mostly smooth sailing after that.

"We talk about a step forward and a couple back, and the first couple innings were a couple back," manager Mike Matheny said. "You could just tell that he had high energy -- which we don't have a problem with -- and he was having trouble separating that from how he was throwing.

"He was heaving, and if you look at the replays, those balls are in the middle of the plate. ... He settled down, though. In the third, I thought he was better, and those last three [innings] were probably his best."

Martinez retired the side in the sixth and seventh after running into a bit of trouble in the fifth.

Dee Gordon notched a leadoff double, but Martinez kept him at second on J.T. Realmuto's groundout to short while striking out Christian Yelich for the second out. Then, after intentionally walking Stanton, he fanned Derek Dietrich to escape the frame unharmed.

"He did a nice job and got the guys he had to," Matheny said. "At that point he had a real nice slider and was getting some swings and misses at it. You get speed like [Gordon] leading off the inning -- tough spot -- and we just scored some runs, so that was a great shutdown from him."

Martinez threw 102 pitches on the night, 72 of which were for strikes. The win was his third in his last four starts, while his three earned runs allowed were the most over those outings. He was also hit by a pitch on his right throwing arm in the seventh -- although he said he felt fine afterward despite falling to the ground in pain.

Add it all up, and it was just another key to a special win for the youngster who bent early, but didn't break.

"I'm so happy because my family is here and my friends are here too," Martinez said. "I gave a win to them all today."

Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.