Martinez Knocks in Three; Dodgers Win 4-3

The Dodger second baseman had a pair of hits and knocked in three runs, including two in the eighth inning that turned a 3-2 Colorado lead into a 4-3 Dodger win. No, not that second baseman, it was Ramon Martinez whose glove has kept him on the Dodger roster all season long despite a .180 batting average. Scott Proctor got the win; Takashi Saito the save.

The Dodgers, who took the Colorado series two games to one and have won four of the last five, is in third place in the NL West, 6.5 games behind first-place Arizona and 2.5 games behind San Diego Padres in the NL Wild Card race.  

Brad Penny volunteered to start on three days rest for only the second time in his career, and while he struggled with his control (he walked five), allowed only two hits and a single run, turning the game over to the bullpen in the sixth with a 2-1 lead.

He threw 111 pitches during the sizzling afternoon, spending 17 of them on Cory Sullivan in the third inning. Sullivan fouled off 12 straight before flying out to left field. Penny lowered his ERA to 2.59, fourth-best in the majors behind Chris Young, Jake Peavey and Dan Haren.

Penny and his friends in the bullpen were treated to remarkable defense during the close game. Shortstop Rafael Furcal and left fielder Andre Ethier made a pair of highlight plays each and center fielder Juan Pierre added a diving catch in center.

The Dodgers scored in the first when Furcal doubled and later scored on Kemp's sac fly. They added a second run in the second inning when Ethier singled and Russell Martin was hit on the knee by a pitch.

With one out, Martinez smacked a grounder to the right side of the infield and Rockie first baseman Todd Helton ranged so far to his right, he screened second baseman Kaz Matsui. When Helton couldn't reach it, the ball zipped between Matsui's legs for an infield hit, scoring Ethier.

In the fourth inning, Penny walked Matt Holliday, throwing his 72nd pitch on ball four. Helton doubled to right and Garrett Anderson walked to load the bases with none out.

Brad Hawpe looped a drive to center that Pierre made a clutch, diving catch, driving in Holliday. Then Cory Tulowitzki laced one up the middle that looked like a certain hit and a tie game.

But Furcal ranged back of second to glove the ball, turned quickly and fired to third, nipping Helton who had rounded the base too far. Penny closed the inning with a strikeout.

Lefty Joe Beimel, making his team-leading 63rd appearance, took over in the sixth and pitched two perfect innings. He lowered his ERA against division opponents to 2.28 (6 ER/23.2 IP) and his opponents average against to .193 (16-for-83).

Scott Proctor came in in the eighth inning and retired the first two he faced. Then he gave up a single to Holliday on a 1-2 pitch, then threw a home run ball to Helton after getting two strikes on him. Suddenly Colorado led 3-2.

In the last of the eighth, Shea Hillenbran bounced out to third base but Ethier drew a walk and Martin's short drive to center dropped just in front of a diving Cory Sullivan. Jeff Kent, who had been given the day off, pinch-hit for slumping James Loney (4-for-26, .153) and walked to load the bases.

Martinez laced a shot to right-center, driving in both Ethier and Martin.

Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out the side on 14 pitches for his 33rd save in 36 attempts. The Dodger closer saved all four of the Dodgers' wins during the recent surge, pitching 4.1 scoreless innings while striking out eight. Saito's 33 saves ranks him eighth on the Dodger single-season list, one behind Jeff Shaw, who saved 34 in 1999.

A number of things made it apparent that both clubs had gone into their pennant-drive mode. Colorado played the infield in with Furcal at third and one out in the first inning. And the two clubs played 11 players (Rockies 6, Dodgers 5) who had played the complete 14-inning game the night before.

Los Angeles, now 64-60, has an open date today and will meet the Phillies and Mets for three road games in each city starting on Tuesday.
 Score by innings	
Colorado	000 100 020-3
Los Angeles	110 000 02x-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  1  1  0  .274
Pierre cf	2  0  1  0  .288
Kemp rf	        3  0  1  1  .323
Hillenbran 3b	4  0  0  0  .280
Ethier lf	2  2  1  0  .295
Martin c	2  1  1  0  .295
Loney 1b	3  0  1  0  .292
 Kent ph	0  0  0  0  .286
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
Martinez 2b	4  0  2  3  .180
Penny p	        2  0  0  0  .260
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saenz ph	1  0  1  0  .188
 Proctor p	0  0  0  0  .000
Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .257
   Totals	28 4 9 4
   Rockies	29 3 4 3

 2B- Furcal (21). RBI- Kemp (28), Martinez 3 (18).
SF- Kemp. LOB- Los Angeles (8), Colorado (5).

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Penny	        5.0  2  1-1  5  3  2.59
Beimel	        2.0  0  0-0  0  2  4.14
Proctor (2-0)	1.0  2  2-2  0  1  4.72
Saito (sv 33)	1.0  0  0-1  0  3  1.47 
 T-3:01.  Att- 48,732.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Juan Pierre extended his hitting streak to eight games by going 1-for-2 and finished the homestand hitting .433 (13-for-30). Pierre is also batting .357 (25-for-70) in the month of August. ...The Dodgers scored first again today and this time it led to victory as the club now improves to a Major League-best 44-11 (.800) when crossing the plate with the first run. Los Angeles is now 13-4 in its last 17 contests when scoring first.

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