The game underscored the importance of the 24-year-old catcher, motivator, sparkplug who drew a clutch walk, stole a base, hit the game-winning home run and guided veteran pitchers Randy Wolf and Takashi Saito, along with sophomore Jon Broxton, to a no-room-for-mistakes 3-2 victory and Wolf's team-leading sixth win.
"(Martin) is awesome," Wolf said. "I never get tired of talking about him. He is always looking for ways to get better, and he is a perfectionist. If he doesn't do his job, doesn't get a guy over or misses a pitch he thought he should have hit, he is harder on himself than anybody else could possibly be on him."
The fans have been voting for a change in recent days, with about 10,000 of them staying home each night instead of battling the traffic to watch a team that has been, quite frankly, not all that much fun to watch.
GM Ned Colletti and Manager Grady Little made the first step toward changing that image Tuesday night.
Called up from Las Vegas was one of the spring training standouts, infielder Tony Abreu. The 22-year-old had been one of the bright spots of spring training, hitting .340, and then he lit up the Pacific Coast League with a .347 average with 37 runs scored in 39 games.
In the organization's madding way, they took Abreu, a minor league all-star second baseman who played shortstop during the spring, into a third baseman, hoping to fill the void at the corner caused by the horrid slump Wilson Betemit, who banged 18 home runs last year, found himself in from the opening gun.
It's not so much what actually Abreu did in his first game, rather the fact that the Dodgers are -- finally -- starting to look inward at their minor league prospects to turn a rather sluggish start around and the L.A. fans seemed to sense that immediately.
Because with Abreu's arrival, they sent Hong-Chic Kuo back to Las Vegas to become yet again a starter. And they hinted that the same might be done with Chad Billingsley.
Hopefully, the moves are symbolic of the move back to home-grown talent. In at least a couple games already this year there were more home-grown Dodgers on the visiting team than were fielded by Los Angeles.
Wolf had his usual first-inning blues, battling through it with but using 25 pitchers against a good Brewer lineup. His breaking stuff produced 14 ground balls and he struck out four to account for 18 of the 21 outs he produced over his seven innings.
Every one of the innings were pressure-packed after Martin's homer in the fourth. Broxton and Saito worked scoreless innings to nail the club's 26th win of the season.
The turning point came in the third when Milwaukee had tied the game 1-1 and had runners at first and third with one out. Outfielder Bill Hall smacked a sizzler to Abreu at third, who had thrown away the first major league change he received.
The youngster turned the shot into an inning-ending double play and Wolf went on to set down the next nine Brewers in succession. Wolf finished the night having used only 72 pitches, only 45 over his last six innings and threw only four in a remarkably efficient seventh.
Los Angeles took a 1-0 lead in the second when Martin drew a walk off Ben Sheets, who has shut out the Dodgers in the first series of the season. The young Dodger catcher then stole second base, running his record to 8-0, and scoring on Luis Gonzalez's sharp single to right field. Gonzalez was given extra life after catcher dropped his foul pop just to the left of home plate moments before.
That inning accounted for two of the Dodgers four hits.
The other two came in succession in the fourth after Milwaukee had tied the game in the third.
Jeff Kent rifled a double that went to the wall in left-center and Martin launched his game-winning third homer of the season moments later. From that point on, the Brewers retired 15 Dodgers in a row.
Martin leads all National League catchers in hitting (.312), runs (28), RBIs (28), walks (19), hits (48) and steals (eight) and an undetermined number of pitchers counseled, inspired, threatened and cajoled.
"We could do a story on that kid every single night if we wanted to," Dodgers manager Grady Little said. "He is unbelievable. He has been an ironman for us, and he has been very productive, as well."
In tonight's series finale, Brad Penny (5-1, 2.54) opposes Milwaukee's Chris Capuano (5-2, 3.72) at 7:10 p.m. PT.
Score by innings Milwaukee 001 001 000-2 Los Angeles 010 200 00x-3 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre cf 4 0 0 0 .265 Furcal ss 4 0 1 0 .303 Garciaparra 1b 3 0 0 0 .283 Kent 2b 3 1 1 0 .286 Martin c 2 2 1 2 .312 Gonzalez lf 3 0 1 1 .262 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Ethier rf 3 0 0 0 .270 Abreu 3b 3 0 0 0 .000 Wolf p 2 0 0 0 .105 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Betemit ph 1 0 0 0 .188 Clark lf 0 0 0 0 .258 Totals 28 3 4 3 Milwaukee 30 2 3 2 Errors- Abreu (1). 2B- Kent (12). HR- Martin (3). RBI- Gonzalez (15), Martin 2 (28). SB- Martin (8), Furcal (6). LOB- Los Angeles 2, Milwaukee 5. DP- Abreu, Kent and Garciaparra; Furcal and Garciaparra. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Wolf (6-3) 7.0 3 2-2 3 4 3.75 Broxton 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 1.08 Saito (sv 14) 1.0 1 0-0 0 1 1.71 HBP- by Wolf. T:2:15. Att- 33,552.Dodger Blue Notes-- Juan Pierre beat out a bunt to open the bottom of the first, but was called out for running out of the baseline. ...Rafael Furcal singled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 10 games -- longest by a Los Angeles player this season. ... Little indicated more changes are on the way. He said starter Brett Tomko (1-5, 6.28 ERA) would be skipped in the rotation and with Kuo re-becoming a starter it makes his future a bit cloudy. Kuo made only two Major League appearances after a Minor League injury rehab assignment and had a 15.43 ERA after beginning the season on the disabled list with a shoulder strain. ...Little said he might use LaRoche in left field to spell Luis Gonzalez, which would take playing time away from fourth outfielder Brady Clark. ...The Dodgers have won 43 of the 66 meetings between these two teams, including 12 of the last 18. ...Wilson Betemit was hitless as a pinch-hitter last night but is now 5-for-7 with three homers, a double and seven RBI. He is tied for the second-most pinch-hits in baseball behind Matt Diaz (7). ...Juan Pierre is tied for second in the National League in stolen bases (16). ...Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez each went deep in first game of the series. For Kent, it was his 352nd career-homer, putting him in a tie with Ellis Burks for 71st on the all-time list, two behind Lee May. Kent's two RBI also pushed him into 63rd place on the all-time RBI chart, one behind Brewers' Hall of Famer Robin Yount. For Luis Gonzalez, it was career homer No. 336, surpassing Darryl Strawberry and tying Joe Adcock for 85th place all-time. ...With 33,552 in attendance the Dodgers surpassed the one million mark in attendance -- 1,022,941 in 24 dates to be exact. The Dodgers lead the NL having drawn 44,476 fans per game.