Cubs come away impressed by Pedro

Cubs come away impressed by Pedro

CHICAGO -- When they faced off in the American League in the first half of this decade, Pedro Martinez dominated Alfonso Soriano, holding him to a .163 average in 43 at-bats, with 15 strikeouts.

Flash forward to Wednesday, when Martinez made his 2009 debut with the Phillies at Wrigley Field. Soriano strode to the plate in the second inning, took a called strike, then whiffed on two consecutive changeups.

Was it the same old Pedro?

"I think he doesn't have the stuff he had before, but now he pitches smart," Soriano said.

"Pedro, to me, was Pedro," added Cubs catcher Koyie Hill, who went 1-for-2 off Martinez. "Maybe not six, seven years ago, but he's going to give those guys a chance to win when he goes out there."

Martinez got his 215th career victory, as he lasted five innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. The Phillies won, 12-5, after pounding Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall for 12 runs in the first four innings.

"They did a great job getting him a lead and letting him settle down and just kind of pound the strike zone," Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. "He knows how to pitch. You get a guy with 200-something wins, he knows how to win, so you give him a lead like that, he's going to be tough."

Martinez threw 99 pitches, 64 for strikes, and induced 14 swings and misses. He struck out five and walked one.

The Cubs scored once in the first four frames, then loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth before pushing across a pair of runs. Still, Chicago's hitters came away impressed.

"He mixed all his pitches in," said second baseman Jeff Baker, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI against Martinez. "He was throwing everything for strikes. ... His breaking stuff is still really, really sharp and all of his offspeed pitches are still plus pitches."

Shortstop Ryan Theriot faced Martinez when he made his final 2008 start as a member of the Mets last September. Theriot thought the '09 version of Martinez was better.

This Martinez did not feature the velocity he once had, but he still got his fastball up to 92 mph on multiple occasions.

"He had some life on his fastball," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. "It looked like he had some good movement, too.

"To be able to see a guy like that on your team, it's fun to just watch him," Howard said.

Phillies fans in attendance were satisfied, but a little more reserved in their praise.

Eric Lee, on vacation from his home in Lambertville, N.J., thought Martinez's five innings were "pretty good," for a guy his age.

Was he happy the Phillies made the signing?

"I'm happier now than I was initially," Lee said.

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