Martin Blocks Off Rockies

Lets see: Russell Martin has been given credit for straightening out the pitching staff, for his dependable bat and for demonstrating such a strong throwing arm the opposition has stopped wearing track shoes on the bases. Now he adds another facet to his game, blocking the plate. Andre Ethier (second) and J.D. Drew (third) nailed runners attempting to score and Martin made an accomplished tag on each to save a run and, eventually, save Jae Seo's second win of the season.

All the kid needs to do now is to lead the team onto the field in the first inning with a back-flip, as Ozzie Smith did with the Cardinals.

A shaky Seo struggled to get out of the first innings with just a single run scored, then benefitted from the accurate throws and professional tags at the plate, straightening up his act to tack six scoreless innings onto the first, pitching the Dodgers to a 6-1 win and evening his record at 2-2.

When he finally found his groove, Seo topped the Rockies Byung-Hyun Kim in the first matchup of two Korean starting pitchers in major-league history.

It was the Dodgers' fifth consecutive win and their 13th in their past 16 games, moving them within a half-game of the National League West lead, the closest they have been since the first week of the season.

With the Rockies leading 1-0 and a runner on first base with one out in the top of the second, Danny Ardoin lined a double off the wall in the left-field corner. Andre Ethier and shortstop Rafael Furcal made perfect relays to Martin at the plate.

The runner slid to the right of the plate, reaching between Martin's for the plate with his left hand but Martin put the tag on him much to the delight of the crowd of 33,652 but he didn't convince Rockies manager Clint Hurdle who rushed to home plate to debate the call.

Luis Gonzalez led off with a double in the third and when Garrett Atkins lined a one-hopper to Drew in right field he fired to Martin at the plate and this tag was without controversy as Drew demonstrated his surgically repaired right arm was back to normal.

It still took a bases-loaded double play to get Seo out of that inning. But over the final four innings, when he allowed just one more hit. It was his first win in three weeks and his ERA dropped from 5.31 to 4.50.

"Those two plays got me through to the seventh inning," said Seo, speaking through an interpreter. "That really gave me a lift."

He went on to pitch a season-high seven innings, allowing only an unearned run that resulted from Willy Aybar's fielding error. Jonathan Broxton and Joe Beimel added a scoreless inning each, and the Dodgers improved to 13-2 in games started by Martin with a collective 2.89 ERA while he is behind the plate.

Oh, yes, Martin also contributed a leadoff single in the eighth inning. starting a two-run rally that officially buried the Rockies.

The Dodgers (25-20) have won a season-high five games in a row for the second time this month.

Seo (2-2), who scattered six hits in his second consecutive strong outing, was seemingly out of rhythm after a seven-day layoff because Manager Grady Little switched his rotation to keep Derek Lowe and Brett Tomko on their normal rest.

In his last two starts, Seo has given up only two runs (one earned) over 13 innings and the starting rotation is now a collective 18-8 with an ERA of 3.58.

The Rockies lost the National League West lead to Arizona and fell into a second-place tie with the Dodgers, a half-game behind the Diamondbacks.
  Standings     w-l   pct   gb
Arizona        25-19 .568  --
Los Angeles    25-20 .556  0.5
Colorado       25-20 .556  0.5
San Francisco  24-21 .533  1.5
San Diego      23-22 .511  2.5
In Korea it was a historic moment. There was a large Korean presence in the stadium and Seo noted, "In Korea, this was a big issue. To the Korean fans, it didn't matter who won the game. They were just proud that two Koreans were pitching in a Major League game."

The Dodgers took the lead in the bottom of the third on an error by first baseman Todd Helton, a double by Jose Cruz, an RBI single by Olmedo Saenz and a run-scoring forceout from Drew, who had a second RBI in the eighth.

In the sixth, Jeff Kent doubled in Drew in the sixth inning, and helped by eight walks scored six runs without a any batter with a multiple-hit game -- and stranded 11 runners.

Deadline Nearing-- In a stylized ritual, Scott Boras, the agent for the Dodgers' still-unsigned top pick from last year's draft, watched batting practice from the front row while GM Ned Colletti talked to reporters by the dugout, each pretending not to notice the other.

The clock continued to tick on Luke Hochevar, the right-hander out of the University of Tennessee who turned down a $2.98 million signing bonus Labor Day weekend. The Dodgers lose rights to him May 30, after which Hochevar will re-enter the draft.

The Dodgers stated they have no offer on the table to Hochevar, and there have been no negotiations since a brief meeting early in spring training between Colletti and Boras.

When asked about negotiations, the two sides were not showing their hole cards. "I'm here to listen to what they have to say and we'll go from there," said Boras; "We know the price," said Colletti.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt told Boras and Hochevar during a meeting last winter that the club won't offer the $2.98 million bonus again. And if that is so, the sides are at an impasse.

Want to Buy a Lefty?-- The Dodgers continue to shop left-hander Odalis Perez who has made only a one-inning appearance (and gave up a run) since May 14. Although he has ranked in the top 10 in ERA two of the last four seasons, his contract has kept interest at a low level.
  Score by innings
Colorado 100 000 000-1
Dodgers  002 001 12x-6

  Dodgers        ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS        3 1 1 0 .244
Cruz, CF          3 2 1 0 .238
Saenz, 1B         3 0 1 1 .319
  Robles, PR      0 0 0 0 .190
  Broxton, P      0 0 0 0 .000
  Martinez, PH-2B 1 0 1 1 .325
Drew, RF          5 1 1 2 .289
Kent, 2B          3 0 1 1 .247
  Beimel, P       0 0 0 0 .000
  Aybar, 3B       1 0 1 1 .393
Ethier, LF        4 0 0 0 .283
Martin C          4 1 1 0 .294
Seo, P            3 0 0 0 .133
  Garciaparra, 1B 1 1 1 0 .369
    Totals       31 6 9 6   
    Angels       30 1 8 1 

  Error- Aybar. 2B hits- Cruz (9), 
Kent (8). RBI- Saenz (22), Drew 2 
(33), Kent (29), Aybar (10), 
Martinez (5). S- Furcal. LOB- 
Los Angeles 11. CS- Furcal (6). 
DP- 3 (Furcal, Kent and Saenz 2; 
Furcal, Martinez and Garciaparra).

  Dodgers in h r-er bb so era
Seo (W,2-2) 7.0 6 1-0 1 4 4.50
Broxton     1.0 2 0-0 0 1 0.82
Beimel      1.0 0 0-0 1 1 2.51 
  HBP-Aybar. T-2:48. Att-33,652.
Dodger Blue Notes-- After being named National League Co-Player of the Week for May 8-14, 1B Nomar Garciaparra continues to be the offensive spark for the Dodgers. He has at least one RBI in 16 of his 26 games as a Dodger, including an RBI double on Sunday to ignite a five-run first inning. His single Monday night marked the 17th consecutive game in which he has reached base safely. Little gave first baseman Nomar Garciaparra a day off although he came into the game late for defensive purposes and singled in his only trip to the plate. …Eric Gagne did not throw to hitters Monday, instead he will throw Tuesday and begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment Friday night with Las Vegas. He will pitch for Las Vegas Friday and Monday and it is not known if he might need a third game appearance or be activated immediately. …Kenny Lofton, who strained a hamstring in Denver last week, scored from first base twice on doubles by Garciaparra Sunday, and Little felt it was bothering him so he scheduled and unscheduled day off. Lofton is batting .291 with 21 runs scored in 28 games. At age 38, he's 10-for-10 stealing bases and has stolen 18 straight dating back to last year, the longest active streak in baseball. Lofton was replaced in center and the second spot in the batting order by Jose Cruz. Starting for Garciaparra at first base was Olmedo Saenz, who also batted in Garciaparra's No. 3 spot. ...OF J.D. Drew belted his third career pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning of Saturday's 8-4 victory over the Angels. Drew now has a team-high eight homers on the season, and 150 for his career. ...The Dodgers have now scored 242 runs on the season, tops in the National League.