The Washington Times - May 2, 2009, 05:54PM

Shairon Martis was rattling off all the things that worked for him Saturday afternoon against the Cardinals, from a fastball with “good life” to an “excellent” changeup to a “good” slider.

“I mean, today was my day,” he said.


Yes it was, and the Nationals haven’t seen one of these in a long time.

With nine innings of five-hit ball, Martis paced the way toward a 6-1 Washington win over St. Louis. It was the first time a Nationals starter went nine innings since Pedro Astacio’s two-hit shutout against the Braves on Aug. 15, 2006. That’s right, they had no complete games in 2007 and only two eight-inning complete games last season (Jason Bergmann and Tim Redding on the road in losses).

Afterward, the compliments were flying around both clubhouses.

Adam Dunn: “He pitched awesome, man.”

Wil Nieves: “He was unbelievable. To do what he did against this team, you’ve got to be on.”

Tony La Russa: “I complimented them last night [on Jordan Zimmermann]. I complimented them today.”

Martis was so efficient — he didn’t walk a batter and he went to a three-ball count only three times — that there really wasn’t much debate in the dugout whether to let him go the distance.

“Even in the seventh inning, I told Randy [St. Claire]: ‘Right now, he’s still got as good of stuff as anybody we’re going to bring out of the bullpen,’” Manny Acta said. “He kept his velocity the whole game. He was throwing still 92 mph at the end. There was no doubt in our mind.”

Who would have thought that five of the Nationals’ six wins this season would have come from 22-year-olds: Zimmermann and Martis? And who would have thought Martis would be pacing the entire pitching staff? He leads the team with a 3-0 record, and if you throw out last week’s rough outing in Philadelphia, he’s got a 2.96 ERA.

Perhaps Acta said it best when describing Martis’ gem today versus everything else that’s gone wrong over the last month.

“Moments like this, games like this, they’re worth five of those losses that we had before,” the manager said. “This is what we’re working for here, to develop these types of kids.”