(AP) — Making his first career start, St. Louis Cardinals rookie Carlos Martinez was hoping to go the distance.
Martinez didn't quite make it, lasting just 4 2-3 innings and taking the loss in a 5-1 setback to the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers. But Martinez, who was called up from Triple-A Memphis earlier in the day to make the start, was able to turn some heads nevertheless.
"That guy's got an electric arm," said the Dodgers' A.J. Ellis. "Great stuff. We were just fortunate to drive his pitch count up and force him out of the game a little bit earlier."
Ellis did his part to get Martinez (0-1) out by hitting a three-run home run in the fourth. Martinez made one more pitch before leaving with a cramp in his hand. He allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks.
"I feel bad I didn't finish what I started," Martinez said with Jon Jay serving as his interpreter. "I felt good, but over the last inning my hand started cramping up. It feels a lot better now."
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Martinez was waiting for this opportunity.
"He's been wanting to start; he's been asking for a long time," Matheny said. "I thought he did a very good job."
Dodgers rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven stellar innings to lead his team to the win.
The Dodgers have won 17 of their last 18 games on the road, with the only loss coming Tuesday to St. Louis in the second game of the four-game set. Los Angeles returns home for a six-game home stand against Tampa and the New York Mets.
Ryu (11-3) allowed one unearned run on five hits while striking out seven and walking no one. He increased his winning percentage to .786, which is the highest winning percentage for a rookie in Dodgers' history.
Fellow Los Angeles rookie Yasiel Puig had three hits to raise his batting average to .377. Adrian Gonzalez drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Jerry Hairston had a pinch-hit RBI single.
Matt Holliday had two hits and scored the Cardinals' only run. St. Louis fell four games back of Pittsburgh in the National League Central race.
With the Dodgers leading 1-0, Holliday singled with two outs to keep the fourth inning alive. David Freese followed with a single to center, and when Andre Ethier's throw into the infield hit the second base bag and got away, Holliday came home to even the score.
Gonzalez walked with one out in the fifth and Puig followed with a single. Puig was erased by Ethier's fielder's choice, but Ellis then drove Martinez's pitch into the Dodgers' bullpen in left field to make it 4-1.
Notes: Cardinals rookie pitcher Shelby Miller, who left Wednesday night's game after two pitches when he was struck on the pitching elbow by a Carl Crawford line drive, said before the game he is ready to go. "I don't think I'm going to miss a beat," Miller said. "It's less sore than if I threw 100 pitches." ... Los Angeles owns the best road winning percentage in the Majors (33-25, .569). The last time the Dodgers led the Major Leagues in road winning percentage was 1988 (49-31, .613) which is also the last time they won the World Series. ... The Dodgers won the season series between the teams by a 4-3 count and now lead the all-time series between the teams 1,012-1,009. ... Martinez is the fifth rookie to make a start for St. Louis this season.