Between timely hitting and sound defense, Ethan Martin has been able to rack up wins even when he hasn't necessarily been at his best. On Sunday, he recorded another victory, this time on the back of his strongest Triple-A start.
The Phillies No. 2 prospect gave up two hits over a season-high eight innings to pitch Lehigh Valley to a 5-0 blanking of Toledo at Coca-Cola Park.
"I had not had one game where I had thrown up zeros across the board, so that was big," Martin said. "There has always been that one run or two runs, even when I've been throwing good. Putting up zeros today was big for me.
"There have been times when I've not had my good stuff and I've given up runs, but the team has been scoring a pretty good bit lately. In those games where I haven't had my good stuff and given up a four- or five-spot, they have scored a lot more."
As well as the 2008 first-round pick pitched, he can still thank his teammates for doing their part in staking him to an early lead and keeping baserunners to a minimum.
The 24-year-old right-hander used an inning-ending double play to erase consecutive walks leading off the second and got more help from his defense in the third to double off Gustavo Nunez, who had singled to center field.
An inning later, MLB.com's No. 71 overall prospect got out of another jam by rolling a double-play ball to work around a one-out single and an error.
"They were great. Whenever I needed a ground ball, they executed it. They played great behind me," said Martin, who walked three batters and struck out two. "Every chance they had, they made it. Michael Martinez made a great play going at the wall and my catcher, Steven Lerud, did a great job behind the plate and called a good game."
Martin threw 56 of 100 pitches for strikes and retired 13 of his final 14 batters. He asked to come back out for the ninth for a shot at his first shutout in three years, but his pitch count -- along with the fact that he threw 110 pitches on Monday in Columbus -- caused the IronPigs to turn to the bullpen.
The victory gave Martin a share of the International League lead in wins, tying him with Durham's J.D. Martin and Louisville's Greg Reynolds.
It marked the first time in 16 Triple-A starts that Martin --
acquired by the Phillies in the deal that sent Shane Victorino to the Dodgers last July -- has not allowed a run. In each of his previous eight wins, he had allowed at least five baserunners. And in four of them, he had surrendered at least four hits and two runs.
"This is right up there," said Martin, who throws two- and four-seam fastballs, a curveball and changeup. "Just getting through eight innings was a big accomplishment. I've had high pitch counts and not been able to get to seven or eight innings with consistency. Today was probably the most ground balls I've got in a game in a long time.
"The four [wins] in a row are nice, but I want to keep building off this outing. I've had a lot of walks, but I have a good feel for my stuff. I just need to stay straight from the mound to the plate and not drift off or pull out. I need to stay back over the rubber and let my lower half guide me to the [catcher's] mitt."
Luis Garcia worked around a hit in the ninth to seal the IronPigs' eighth shutout of the season, fifth in June and third against the Mud Hens in 12 days.
Lehigh Valley's Cesar Hernandez was 2-for-4 with an RBI, Steve Susdorf reached base three times and scored twice and Martinez collected two hits and two RBIs.
Toledo starter Shawn Hill (1-11) suffered his IL-leading 11th loss after surrendering five runs on 10 hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings.