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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez found his rhythm early, both on the mound and at the plate.
It was another encouraging sign for the right-hander, who struggled through a rough May and wound up on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Martinez pitched seven effective innings for his third consecutive win and doubled in the Cardinals' first run in a 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants 3-2 on Saturday.
"You could tell he found something in the 'pen that he carried right onto the mound in the first inning," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "That's a great place for him to be and he just kept building on it. Now it looks just like he was before he got hurt."
Martinez missed 23 games while sidelined with a right lat strain and was only marginally effective upon his return. In his last three starts, however, Martinez has a 2.36 ERA while allowing five runs in 19 innings.
"Right now my arm is great so I don't have any pain in there," Martinez said. "I have focus always and I believe in myself."
Martinez allowed one run on six hits with three strikeouts and did not walk a batter for the third time this season.
Kolton Wong had two hits and scored a run, disgruntled outfielder Dexter Fowler added a sacrifice fly and Francisco Pena singled in a run.
Martinez (6-4) was steady most of the afternoon and only allowed one runner past first base until the sixth inning. He got Brandon Belt to pop out with a runner on third in the first, stranded runners on base in the second and fourth and then got Brandon Crawford to ground out after Belt's RBI double in the sixth.
Jordan Hicks allowed a run in the eighth and Bud Norris retired three batters for his 17th save.
"The last outings I've had really good focus and I'm comfortable with myself," Martinez said. "All my pitches are moving, and today I was trying to throw right in the middle because I've got a lot of movement on my two-seamer and my cutter."
Belt had three hits and drove in both runs for the Giants. San Francisco has been held to two runs or fewer in five of its last six games.
Jeff Samardzija had an uneven outing in his first start since May 29. Activated off the disabled list before the game, Samardzija (1-5) gave up three runs in five innings and repeatedly pitched with runners on base.
"The mistakes aren't because of the arm," Samardzija said. "They're just because of the execution of the pitch, and that's always a good thing."
Fowler went 0-for-3 to drop his batting average to .168. Earlier this week, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak appeared to question Fowler's effort but later backed off those comments.
"That's a big run right there," Matheny said, adding that Fowler has been taking better at-bats. "I know he's looking for results right now and the fact that we can get a run in, that's a result. But I know he's looking for some hits to fall in, just like everybody else."
Cardinals: Yadier Molina was given the day off after experiencing soreness in his right shoulder. LHP Tyler Lyons (elbow strain) began his rehab assignment and threw 13 pitches in one scoreless inning for Triple-A Memphis. Lyons has been out since June 6. RHP Luke Gregerson (shoulder impingement) threw nine pitches in a rehab appearance with Double-A Springfield.
Giants: 2B Joe Panik was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left groin strain he injured while running from first to third during Friday's game. Closer Hunter Strickland (broken hand) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. INF Chase d'Arnaud was called up from Triple-A Sacramento and RHP Chris Stratton was optioned down.
Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (1-3, 2.58 ERA) pitches the series finale Sunday against Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty (3-4, 3.19). Bumgarner has lost five of his last six starts against St. Louis. Flaherty allowed five runs in four innings during his only career appearance against San Francisco in 2017.
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