Martinez again excels in stopper role

Righty gives up two runs in six after Cards drop first two games of series

Martinez again excels in stopper role

CINCINNATI -- Whether by scheduling coincidence or dominating presence, every team needs a stopper.

Martinez, who has played the role before, was that stopper again on Sunday, working six strong innings to help St. Louis outlast Cincinnati, 5-2, at Great American Ball Park, salvaging the finale of the three-game series.

"It was important for me to get this win," Martinez (13-7) said.

"He's been impressive," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

Martinez helped his team win Aug. 24 after the Mets had taken the opener of a key three-game series. He helped his team win Aug. 29 in Milwaukee after the Cardinals had lost two of three to Oakland. And he helped his team win again Sunday to prevent St. Louis from being swept by the Reds.

The 24-year-old right-hander took a shutout into the seventh inning. His five walks were not a highlight, but Martinez induced his league-high 29th and 30th double plays of the season to work out of trouble.

"Carlos knows he's got to be careful with certain guys," Matheny said.

A leadoff walk to Joey Votto in the sixth helped Cincinnati load the bases, but Martinez got Ramon Cabrera to roll into an inning-ending double play.

"The past is the past; I just try to be focused on the batter," said Martinez, whose season ERA sits at 3.07.

Martinez has allowed just five runs over his last four starts combined, and he hasn't lost a road start since mid-May.

"If [Martinez is] feeling good with his sinker, he'll pitch tough all the way through [the order]," Matheny said. "He can throw [the fastball] 97-98 mph with movement, the changeup, the sinker he can throw in any count.

"He's figuring out the league. He's been great."

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.