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At long last, Pedro to pitch for Mets

At long last, Pedro to pitch for Mets

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At the July 31 trading deadline, both Atlanta and Philadelphia looked everywhere for pitching help, knowing that the addition of a starter could be the decisive factor in their postseason hopes.

And though it comes more than a month after the non-waiver deadline, the addition of Pedro Martinez provides the Mets a more proven late-season commodity than the other contenders in the National League East could have realistically acquired.

Martinez returns on Monday to start against Cincinnati. The right-hander, who owns a lifetime 206-92 record, hasn't pitched since last September while recovering from rotator cuff surgery.

His start will come three days after he threw a 64-pitch bullpen session in Atlanta and will defy the odds of doctors who said that a one-year recovery for an injury such as Martinez's was not possible.

"Nobody has been able to climb that big mountain," Martinez said. "I'm happy to give it a try."

Martinez began his Mets career with a start in Cincinnati, and his team wouldn't mind a repeat of that outing, when he allowed three hits and three runs in six innings, with 12 strikeouts.

In season openers during his career, Martinez is 6-2 with a 2.88 ERA. Removing the seven-run, three-inning outing that started 2002 drops his ERA to 2.18. Martinez has started his season with scoreless outings on five occasions.

"I'd love to help," he said on Friday following his bullpen session. "I'd love to be the one to spark them and help out."

The Mets don't need much help, holding a comfortable lead in the division and fresh off a sweep of the Braves in Atlanta. Still, the return of Martinez can't hurt, though he'll be on a pitch count of 75 or a maximum of five innings, whichever comes first.

"We can't know what to expect from Pedro," catcher Paul Lo Duca said in July. "But in the back of your mind, you're saying, 'If we get all of Pedro back, that's bigger than any trade we can pull off.' But no one in here has a clue about what he'll have."

Pitching matchup
NYM: RHP Pedro Martinez (9-8, 4.48 ERA in '06)
Martinez last pitched on Sept. 27, 2006, and last won on Aug. 9. He made four rehab starts, and his successful bullpen session on Friday -- plus a good next-day recovery -- was the determining factor in the Mets sending him to a Major League mound. Martinez holds a career 25-23 record in the season's final month and is 6-2 lifetime against the Reds.

CIN: RHP Aaron Harang (14-3, 3.51 ERA)
Harang has lost just once since May 20 and has won four consecutive decisions. He is two wins shy of his career high, set last season. Despite being undefeated in his last five starts, Harang has allowed nine home runs during that stretch, equal to the number of long balls he surrendered in his previous 14 starts.

Player to watch
Outfielder Moises Alou has seven hits in 15 career at-bats against Harang, including four homers and a double, with seven RBIs. The four home runs are tied for Alou's most against any pitcher -- he also has four against John Smiley and Brett Tomko.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• SNY

On radio
• WFAN 660, WADO 1280 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Mets (Oliver Perez, 12-9, 3.39) at Reds (Matt Belisle, 7-8, 5.33), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Mets (John Maine, 14-8, 3.57) at Reds (Tom Shearn, 1-0, 4.76), 12:35 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day

Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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