Ethan Martin was much better than his last time out. Then again, that's not saying much.
Coming off a very brief outing last weekend, Martin flashed his lively fastball Thursday and struck out a career-high nine, but only made it through four innings for the Philadelphia Phillies in an 11-3 loss to the New York Mets.
"I've felt pretty decent almost every start. It just seems when I hit the 60-pitch mark, I kind of have a little struggle there," Martin said. "I need to get to 60-70 pitches and get past it."
Philadelphia lost for the 15th time in 18 road games and fell to 8-6 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg.
Next up is a homecoming of sorts for Sandberg.
Roy Halladay makes his second start since shoulder surgery when Sandberg returns to Wrigley Field on Friday. Sandberg spent almost his entire Hall of Fame career with the Cubs after the Phillies traded him to Chicago before the 1982 season.
Drafted 15th overall in June 2008, Martin was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers last year in a deal for Shane Victorino. The 24-year-old right-hander has a 6.39 ERA in six major league starts.
"He really seemed to hit a wall in the fourth. For a guy like him, it's late in the season," Sandberg said. "Once he lost his feel, it was time to get him out of there."
Martin managed only two outs against Arizona last Saturday, a game the Phillies lost 12-7 in 18 innings. The bullpen was taxed so heavily that Philadelphia put two position players on the mound: John McDonald and losing pitcher Casper Wells.
Martin (2-3)looked sharp at times against the Mets, striking out five in a row. But he was hurt by a leadoff walk in the fourth and Anthony Recker's long home run.
"He's got good stuff," New York second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "He's got a live arm. Fastball's got some life to it."
Murphy had four hits, Eric Young Jr. got three and Recker launched a two-run homer on his 30th birthday as the Mets busted loose for their most runs since routing Washington 11-0 in the first game of a July 26 doubleheader.
Carlos Torres did his best imitation of All-Star ace Matt Harvey, carrying a two-hit shutout into the seventh.
Torres (3-2) pitched in place of Harvey, diagnosed Monday with a partially torn elbow ligament, and helped New York earn a four-game series split.
Three days after making a brief relief appearance, Torres struck out six and walked none over 6 2-3 innings. He yielded four hits and left to a warm ovation from the crowd of 22,008 following Darin Ruf's long sacrifice fly.
"He did a nice job. He really had his stuff working today. His cutter was real effective, he was able to locate it on both sides of the plate," Sandberg said. "For them to get a start like that, he was impressive."
It was Torres' fourth start for New York and first since getting hit hard July 28 in Washington. But the other three have been quite effective, and he owns a 1.56 ERA in 23 games out of the bullpen.
Young made it 10-1 with a bases-loaded triple in a four-run seventh, giving him a career-high three RBIs on one swing of the bat. Andrew Brown hit a solo homer in the eighth and drove in two runs.
New York scored in six straight innings for the first time in one game since an 18-4 win at Arizona on Aug. 24, 2005, according to STATS.
"It was tough all around. It was a very long day," Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown said.
Murphy, refreshed by a rest Wednesday night, singled in the first and put the Mets ahead with an RBI double in the third. He added a pop-fly double in the fifth and an RBI single with two outs in the sixth.
Justin Turner walked in the fourth and Recker hit a long drive just inside the left-field foul pole for his sixth home run.
"I wanted to throw the first pitch down and away. Instead I left it right down the middle of the plate," Martin said.
Murphy's wind-blown double in the fifth dropped in shallow right between stationary second baseman Chase Utley and a charging Ruf, a converted first baseman who also appeared to have trouble with the sun.