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Martinez breathes life into Giants09/16/2007 1:27 AM ET
By Michael Avallone / Special to MLB.com
Joe Martinez was looking for redemption. The San Jose Giants were desperate for a win. Both got what they wanted Saturday night.
Martinez combined with two relievers on a five-hitter as the Giants avoided a sweep with a 2-0 blanking of the Lake Elsinore Storm in Game 3 of the California League Championship Series.
Pounded for six runs on seven hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings in the North Division Finals against Visalia, Martinez (1-1) was anxious to prove he could perform under pressure. San Jose provided him with that opportunity after dropping the first two games of this best-of-5 series.
The 24-year-old right-hander from South Orange, N.J., responded by yielding four hits and striking out three without issuing a walk over six innings.
"I had a tough time in my first start, so I just told myself to get back to basics," Martinez said. "Lake Elsinore has a lot of good hitters up and down the lineup, so in a way, I wanted to use that against them. I focused on keeping the ball down in the zone and hoped that they would hit it to my fielders."
Martinez, who went 10-10 with a 4.26 ERA and a league-leading 151 strikeouts in 26 regular-season starts, came through with his strongest outing of the year when the Giants needed it most.
"I'm always nervous when I pitch," he admitted. "It's certainly more fun participating in the playoffs than the regular season. Every game is do-or-die and that's the way I like it. I just wanted to give us a chance to win and stay alive because I think we have the ability to pull this [championship] out. It helps that I have a good team behind me and they helped me settle down quickly tonight."
Jason Waddell struck out the side in the seventh and Sergio Romo allowed one hit and fanned two over the final two frames for his third postseason save as San Jose forced Game 4 on Sunday.
Fred Lewis staked Martinez to an early lead with a sacrifice fly in the first and Anthony Contereras belted his first postseason homer in the fifth as the Giants rebounded from consecutive one-run losses. Contreras went deep once in 419 regular-season at-bats.
Storm starter Stephen Faris (1-1) yielded two runs on five hits while matching a season high with six strikeouts in six innings. He did not walk a batter.
Josh Alley singled with two outs in the ninth to extend his postseason hitting streak to 10 games for Lake Elsinore. He is batting .457 in the playoffs.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.