SAN DIEGO — Cristhian Martinez’s difficult week took another bad turn late Monday when the Braves reliever gave up a two-run, game-ending homer to San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick in the 13th inning of a 5-3 loss to the Padres.
It was the second extra-innings walk-off homer surrendered by Martinez in five days, and the third homer off the right-hander in three relief appearances over six days. His manager came to his defense a day later.
“That’s not his role,” Gonzalez said before Tuesday’s game at Petco Park. “His role is the middle of the game, long relief. And now we’re putting him in [late innings].”
Martinez gave up a game-ending two-run homer to the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp in the 12th inning of a 5-3 loss in Thursday’s series finale at Los Angeles. He didn’t pitch during the Braves’ three-game weekend sweep of the San Francisco Giants.
The slender Dominican was rested and back in late-innings pressure Monday, when he pitched perfect 11th and 12th innings before a one-out walk to Nick Hundley in the 13th, followed immediately by Ludwick’s second homer of the game.
Martinez also allowed a fourth-inning homer by the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier in a 6-1 loss Wednesday, after starter Derek Lowe’s shortest outing of the season. Lowe was the starter again Monday, this time lasting six innings and allowing two runs and five hits, including a Ludwick homer.
Lowe also had an RBI single, the first hit this season by a Braves pitcher.
Martinez’s three homers allowed is the second-most by a Braves pitcher this season, after starter Brandon Beachy’s four in 29 2/3 innings.
St. Louis reliever Ryan Franklin, with four, is the only National League reliever with more homers allowed all season than Martinez has in his past three games.
Gonzalez said the extra-innings games had caused him to use Martinez in situations he wouldn’t otherwise.
“If that same inning [Monday’s 13th] is the sixth inning after a rain delay, now he’s got to go give you three innings, and that home run means nothing,” Gonzalez said. “But now his last two outings have been at the end of the game because we’ve had extra innings and we’ve run out of pitching, so now that gets magnified.”