<
>

Extra bases: Martinez keeps getting results

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first victory remains elusive, but Texas Rangers rookie right-hander Nick Martinez continues to impress.

With the starting rotation in a state of flux because of injury, Martinez is making a very strong push to challenge for a spot.

In Sunday's 6-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Martinez held them to four hits and one run in a five-inning start, lowering his ERA to 2.28 in the process.

"Everything was working for me," said the 23-year-old after his third major league start. "I felt strong. I'd like to pitch the whole game if it was up to me, but I was on a pitch count and it took me through five innings today."

Martinez said command with his fastball was the key to his strong outing. He was then able to set up his other pitches. He walked three and struck out three.

When he left the game after 84 pitches, Martinez was in position to get his first win, but Toronto tied the score off the bullpen in the sixth.

Juan Francisco's fourth-inning solo home run into the upper deck in right field became the first run allowed by Martinez at Globe Life Park in 11 innings.

"It all started with Martinez," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

The manager was impressed with the way his starter kept the ball on the lower limit of the strike zone.

The Rangers have used Martinez in a variety of roles. His previous five appearances before Sunday came in relief.

Martinez said he was not concerned with his role, bullpen or starter.

"Just helping the team win is what I'm trying to do," he said.