The Washington Times - September 18, 2009, 08:31PM

In a battle of two scuffling pitchers, J.D. Martin has done a better job of managing trouble than Mike Pelfrey, which is why the Nats lead the Mets 4-2 in the fifth.

Martin has thrown 74 pitches through four innings, which would be more alarming if he hadn’t managed to limit the Mets to two runs during that time. Both of those came in the third inning, but Martin still managed to get an inning-ending popup with a runner on third, and escaped the fourth despite giving up a leadoff double. He hasn’t been sharp, but Martin has shown lately he’ll give you a chance to win more often than not, and he’s done that so far tonight.


And the Nats have done a nice job of roughing up Pelfrey, hitting a pair of two-run homers right after base hits. Too often this season, the Nats have failed to string together hits once a pitcher starts to struggle, but Ryan Zimmerman’s first-inning homer (his 30th of the year) followed Cristian Guzman’s single in the first, and Josh Bard homered to center immediately after Ian Desmond’s double in the fifth. They left Zimmerman on third in the fourth inning, but so far, this has been a more efficient offensive performance than the Nats have shown lately.