- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 6, 2010

VIERA, Fla. | Mike Pelfrey sawed off a couple of bats with a new pitch, didn’t get down on himself and recovered from a shaky start.

Pelfrey unveiled an effective split-finger fastball in his first spring start, Fernando Martinez had four hits and homered twice, and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 14-6 on Saturday.

“My thought process coming into the game was I was going to have some adrenaline. I wanted to kind of keep that under control, kind of back off, and I think I did a good job of doing that,” said Pelfrey, who is expected to be the Mets’ No. 2 starter. “It was positive in that aspect.”

Pelfrey allowed four runs — three earned — on seven hits in the first two innings he worked, finishing with a 1-2-3 third. The right-hander took a Cristian Guzman liner off the outside of his right knee in the second, sustaining a minor bruise that only required a postgame icepack.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel was pleased that Pelfrey didn’t get rattled when Washington used an error to score a first-inning run and then went up 4-2 on Eric Bruntlett’s three-run homer. Instead, Pelfrey finished strong.

“The first inning, he got some ground balls that could have got us out of that,” Manuel said. “The second inning was OK. The third inning was outstanding. I thought the third inning, he finally felt comfortable. … That’s the Mike Pelfrey we need.”

Pelfrey turned to his new split-finger offering early on, shattering two bats in the first inning and keeping the Nationals off balance.

“I think it was good. I think I surprised them a little,” he said.

Washington is winless in four exhibition games and has been outscored 50-21. The Mets’ starting lineup included only one player — center fielder Angel Pagan, who is subbing for the injured Carlos Beltran — who is expected to start this season.

The Mets’ 20-hit attack also included a home run by Mike Jacobs, who broke a seventh-inning tie with a drive to left-center.

Martinez, who hit .176 in 29 games as a 20-year-old in 2009, is trying to force his way onto the club as an extra outfielder. He clubbed Sean Estes’ pitch over the right-field wall in the third and ignited a five-run seventh with a game-tying solo shot off Tyler Walker (0-1). Martinez is 8 for 12 (.667) this spring.

“I think to see the display of power, especially with off-speed pitches, was impressive today. When we had (Martinez) in New York, I didn’t see him handle that pitch very well,” Manuel said. “To see him take good swings at it and put it in play with that type of authority shows that he’s growing, he’s maturing.”

Left-hander John Lannan, the Nationals’ likely opening day starter April 5, gave up two runs, two hits and a walk in two innings of his first spring outing. He struck out two.

After struggling through a 27-pitch first inning during which he hit a batter and issued a walk, Lannan quickly regrouped.

“The first inning was a little rough, just trying to find a good rhythm and the ball was up a little quick. But it’s a game of adjustments and I made an adjustment,” Lannan said, adding that his rhythm was better in the second.

Washington’s team ERA stands at 12.82 through four games.

“The first time through, everybody kind of struggled, didn’t through strikes,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “We’ll just give everybody the benefit of the doubt and look for better outings the next time through.”

NOTES: Guzman, who went 2 for 4 as the Nationals’ designated hitter Saturday, has not played the field during an exhibition game. Riggleman said Guzman, who underwent postseason surgery on his throwing shoulder, would start at shortstop Monday against Florida.

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