Martinez pushes DR past Puerto Rico

Martinez pushes DR past PR

MEXICALI, Mexico -- Dominican Republic outfielder Fernando Martinez wants to be a star in New York. Being a hero at the 2009 Caribbean Series in Mexico will suffice for now.

The top prospect in the Mets organization hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to push the Tigres de Licey past Puerto Rico's Leones de Ponce, 2-1, in Tuesday's matinee at Estadio Casas GEO.

Dominican Republic starter Alfredo Simon gave up one run on five hits in seven innings for the victory. He struck out seven.

The Dominican Republic (1-1) will play Mexico (1-0) on Wednesday night. Puerto Rico (0-2) will be seeking its first win of the series when it squares off against Venezuela (1-0) on Wednesday afternoon.

Martinez has a history of success. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound center fielder was named to the Futures Game in 2007 and 2008. In 2006 he was named to the Arizona Fall League All-Prospect team.

Last season the 20-year old combined to hit .292 in 90 games for the Mets' Gulf Coast League team and Double-A Binghamton. The left-handed hitter smacked eight home runs while driving in 43 runs and striking out 73 times.

The biggest knock on Martinez has been his health -- or lack thereof -- as he was slowed by a hamstring injury last season. There is also some concern with the fact that he hit only .217 against left-handed pitching. That said, he hit an impressive .317 against right-handed pitching.

On Tuesday he impressed again, entering the game as a pinch-hitter with two outs and hitting the game-winning homer off reliever Jose Vaquedano to give the Dominican Republic a 2-1 lead. Jose Bautista also scored on Martinez's homer.

"I wasn't looking to hit a home run," Fernandez said. "I wanted a line drive. But thank God the ball went out."

Puerto Rico scored its first and only run in the fourth inning, when Jesus Feliciano came home on a single by Carlos Rivera for an early 1-0 lead. Puerto Rico starter Hector Mercado allowed one run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings before yielding to Vaquedano and setting the stage for Martinez.

"Right now I think I'm going to be in Triple-A, but I'm always thinking of being in the Major Leagues," Fernandez said. "I'm going to go in and have a good Spring Training. You never know."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.