NEW YORK — Pedro Martinez slowly walked off the mound, listening to the taunts from the Bronx crowd. He looked skyward to acknowledge his late father, then smiled at the screaming hecklers.
Looking for one more big win in a spectacular career, Martinez couldn't send the Philadelphia Phillies home with a commanding 2-0 lead over the New York Yankees in the World Series.
Martinez allowed three runs and six hits in six-plus innings, striking out eight in a 3-1 loss in Game 2 on Thursday night.
For 5 2-3 innings, vintage Pedro was on display — minus the overpowering fastball of his heyday. He didn't need it. Martinez baffled the Yankees with offspeed pitches and sneaky fastballs. And, he did it despite not feeling well.
"I didn't feel strong because I've been under the weather the last couple days," Martinez said. "It's not an excuse. I felt good enough to make pitches. I felt kind of winded out there, but I was still able to do what I had to do."
With two outs in the sixth, Martinez got burned on a 1-2 pitch. He threw a slow curve out of the strike zone that Hideki Matsui reached down and drove a few rows deep into the right-field seats to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. The 320-foot homer — an out in most ballparks — was a deflating blow for Martinez.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner stayed in for the seventh after convincing manager Charlie Manuel he felt fine, despite nearing 100 pitches. Martinez gave up consecutive singles to Jerry Hairston Jr. and Melky Cabrera before calling it a night.
"He said he felt good. He said that he wanted to go back out and pitch," Manuel said. "The bottom of the lineup was up and everything, and I thought he hadn't lost anything."
Manuel's decision to start Martinez over Cole Hamels, last year's World Series and NLCS MVP, in Game 2 was intensely scrutinized. But Hamels has struggled this postseason and Martinez threw seven scoreless innings in his only start at Los Angeles in the NLCS.
For Manuel, it was a no-brainer. Hamels pitches better at home, and Martinez has plenty of experience pitching against the Yankees from his Boston Red Sox days.
The familiar chants of "Who's Your Daddy?" began once Martinez started stretching in the outfield 30 minutes before game time. The reference was to a Martinez quote from 2004. Frustrated after another loss to New York, the pitcher said: "I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."
Making his first start at New York's new billion-dollar ballpark, Martinez nearly silenced the fans as he kept the Yankees' sluggers off-balance.
"It's a new Yankee Stadium, but the fans remain the fans," Martinez said. "I remember one guy sitting right in the front row with his daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff. I just told him, 'Your daughter is right beside you. It's a little girl. It's a shame you're saying all these things.' I'm a father myself. How can you be so dumb to do those kind of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?"
Martinez struck out Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon to start the game and fanned Alex Rodriguez twice. Using his guile, the 38-year-old right-hander froze Jeter on a quick-pitch fastball in the third.
"Pedro's probably the smartest pitcher I've faced since I've been up," Jeter said. "He doesn't have to throw 98-99 mph to be successful."
Martinez made one mistake in the fourth, and Mark Teixeira didn't miss it. Teixeira ripped a solo homer a long way out to right-center to tie the game at 1.
"Pedro did a tremendous job," Manuel said. "He changed speeds, and he definitely moved the ball around, and he was aggressive. He wasn't afraid to throw inside to some of their big hitters, and he pitched a good game. Pedro got hurt by the long ball off left-handed hitters. It was a very close game, and we couldn't pull it out."
Martinez spent the first half of the year home in the Dominican Republic. He signed a one-year deal with the Phillies during the All-Star break for a prorated share of $2 million plus incentives, and went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts down the stretch.
Martinez fell to 12-14 in 39 career games against the Yankees, counting the postseason. He hadn't faced New York in the playoffs since he pitched a shaky inning in Boston's 10-3 victory in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
"The fans, I enjoy that," Martinez said. "I know they really want to root for me. It's just that I don't play for the Yankees, that's all. I've always been a good competitor, and they love that. They love the fact that I compete. I'm a New Yorker, as well. If I was on the Yankees, I'd probably be like a king over here."