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Martinez, Clippers on verge of repeat
Righty strikes out 13 as Columbus takes 2-1 edge in IL Finals
09/15/2011 11:43 PM ET
Joe Martinez struck out 13 and threw 98 pitches over seven innings.
Joe Martinez struck out 13 and threw 98 pitches over seven innings. (Columbus Clippers)
Another big performance from Joe Martinez has the Indians' Triple-A affiliate one win away from reclaiming the Governors' Cup.

Martinez and two relievers shut down the IronPigs with a combined four-hitter as Columbus took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 International League Finals with a 6-2 win over Lehigh Valley on Thursday in Allentown, Pa.

A standing-room-only Coca-Cola Park had a playoff atmosphere in its first-ever postseason game, with the temperatures in the low 50s and 9,021 fans -- including Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. -- waving white rally towels in support of veteran starter Dave Bush.

Bush, however, took a back seat to Martinez, who struck out a career-high 13 and limited the Phillies' affiliate to a run on three hits over seven innings for his second playoff win. The New Jersey native threw 65 of his 98 pitches for strikes and walked two.

Martinez had not struck out more than seven batters in an game since July 7, 2008, when he whiffed 10 for Double-A Connecticut. His previous career high came in 2007, when he fanned 11 on two occasions with Class A Advanced San Jose.

Taiwanese right-hander Chen Lee allowed a run on a hit and two walks in the eighth, and Eastern League All-Star Cory Burns worked a 1-2-3 ninth to move the defending-champion Clippers to within one win of their second straight championship.

The IronPigs' bullpen imploded in the ninth when Chance Chapman came on with the bases loaded and walked in three straight runs.

Bush worked a scoreless first, but ran into trouble an inning later when Juan Diaz doubled and No. 8 hitter Luke Carlin followed with a two-run homer to right. It was the catcher's first postseason homer and just the sixth of his season.

Lehigh Valley responded in the third. Veteran third baseman Kevin Frandsen hit a line-drive sacrifice fly to right and Freddy Galvis tagged up and slid around Carlin's tag to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Martinez, meanwhile, cruised through the evening, inducing a double play from Domonic Brown to end the sixth. He held the 'Pigs to just a pair of hits through seven before Cody Overbeck chopped a ball back to the mound that squeaked through for a single with one out in the seventh.

Bush had his share of big moments as well, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth after Nick Johnson's three-hopper came up and hit Frandsen near the face with two outs, momentarily stunning the third baseman. Bush got Diaz to ground out to end the frame.

The Clippers made it 3-1 on Chad Huffman's infield single in the seventh, putting Martinez in line for his second postseason win. The Major League veteran went eight innings in his previous start when Columbus beat Durham to advance to the Finals on Sept. 9.

Lehigh Valley added its final run in the eighth when Rich Thompson drew a leadoff walk, stole second, advanced to third on Carlin's throwing error and scored on Scott Podsednik's fielder's choice to short.

Cleveland native Ryan Feierabend kept the game close for Lehigh Valley, striking out five over three innings in relief of Bush, who was charged with two runs on eight hits and four walks over five innings. Bush struck out four, throwing 94 pitches.

Ryan Edell will get the ball in Game 4 for Lehigh Valley in a must-win game. Columbus sends Paolo Espino to the hill as the Clippers look to advance to the Triple-A National Championship on Tuesday in Albuquerque.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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