It was just another ho-hum night in the frantic National League West, with the Dodgers and Rockies combining for 31 hits and 15 runs during a game that lasted over 4 1/2 hours and ended some 19 minutes after midnight.
The win was important because Arizona beat San Diego and San Francisco topped Cincinnati, but it was costly in that third baseman Nomar Garciaparra pulled the same left calf muscle that put him on the DL last year.
And even if the pull turns out to be not as severe as last season, the Dodgers can not recall Blake DeWitt from Las Vegas unless it is to replace a player that is injured and is going on the disabled list. So only nine days after returning from a broken hand, Nomar is out again and DeWitt's back after a one-day stay in Las Vegas.
After Garciaparra left the game, Martin saw the look on manager Joe Torre's face. "I knew I was going somewhere," he Martin. "He asked where. I said third. I should have said shortstop, just to mess with Furkey [Rafael Furcal], but he would have laughed and said, 'no way.' "
And center fielder Andruw Jones had to leave the game after fouling a ball of his left calf. After returning to the field at the end of the inning he found he could not chase down an RBI double that dropped in right-center that cut the L.A. lead to 6-5. Jones is day-to-day.
"Hopefully, this can be a very significant win for us because we lost a couple of players to injury and had our catcher playing third base," manager Joe Torre said. "We had good energy tonight, and this is about the third game in a row that's been the case. So I'd like to look back on this night and say this was the start of something special."
In the string of firsts that were recorded in the game, the Dodger win was the first in the last eight games with Colorado, dating back to the final weeks of the 2007 season when L.A. hopes winked out as the surging Rockies won the N.L. pennant.
Backup catcher Gary Bennett collected his first hit in a Dodger uniform in the 13th, putting runners at the corner and setting up the winning run. And and Bennett's passed ball tagged Takashi Saito with his second blown save of the season in the ninth.
Saito came in with a 7-6 lead in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs and a double to Scott Podsednick. Garciaparra strained his calf trying to reach Podsednik's hit inside the bag, forcing Martin to third for the first time in his big league career.
The winning run came in the 13th when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki booted Matt Kemp's ground ball and Bennett singled him to third. James Loney walked to load the bases before Martin became the hero de jour, or night in this case, with a fly ball to right field.
. "You look for a pitch up in the zone to drive to the outfield," Martin said. "You want to swing at your pitch and not the pitcher's pitch. The first pitch was down in the zone, exactly where he wanted to put it, so I just stayed patient and he threw me what I needed on the second pitch. I didn't get a whole lot of it, but I got enough of it."
Starter Hiroki Kuroda was not sharp in this start, allowing five runs and nine hits over six innings. He was even less sharp at the plate, leaving seven runners stranded while going 0-for-3.
Colorado jumped into a 4-1 lead in the third inning but Los angeles scored five times in the bottom of the inning with Rafael Furcal starting the rally with a bunt singled. Garciaparra singled home a run and a pair of wild pitches allowed Jones to score. An RBI single by Martin and Juan Pierre's two-run single put the Dodgers up 6-4.
Both teams earned a run in the fourth but the dodgers would not score again until the 13th, while Colorado added runs in the seventh and ninth to tie things up.
Rookie Corey Wade and Jonathan Broxton pitched single innings prior to Saito, before Park threw three scoreless innings of relief to secure his first Major League win since 2006.
"I am very excited tonight," said Park. "I haven't won a game since before my stomach surgery. It's been almost two years and with the kind of year I had last year [he was released twice], it's hard to believe I'd win another Major League game. I just kept dreaming, and never gave up, and I came back to the Major Leagues and it makes me so happy, for me, and my family, and the fans back in Korea."
He stranded two runners in scoring position during that time and fielded his position well, logging four assists.
The Dodgers improved to 10-13 and pulled even with the Rockies for third place, seven behind the Snakes. Giants are 6 1/2 back in the bunched up division. Brad Penny (3-2, 2.6) will face Colorado's Mark Redman (2-1, 5.23) in tonight's game.
Score by innings Colorado 013 100 101 000 0-7 Los Angeles 015 100 000 000 1-8 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 6 1 1 0 .366 Jones cf 3 1 1 0 .169 Kemp cf 4 1 2 0 .286 Garciaparra 3b 5 1 1 1 .226 Bennett c 2 0 1 0 .143 Kent 2b 5 2 2 0 .288 Saito p 0 0 0 0 .000 Sweeney ph 1 0 0 0 .067 Park p 1 0 0 0 .000 Loney 1b 5 1 1 1 .300 Martin c-3b 4 1 4 2 .276 Ethier rf 4 0 1 1 .321 Pierre lf 3 0 1 2 .255 Kuroda p 3 0 0 0 .091 Wade p 0 0 0 0 .000 Young ph 1 0 1 0 .273 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Hu 2b 2 0 0 0 .000 Totals 49 8 16 7 Colorado 49 7 14 5 2b hits- Kent (6), Loney (5), Ethier (7). RBI- Loney (15), Garciaparra (5), Martin 2 (9), Pierre 2 (8), Ethier (13). SF- Martin. CS- Kemp (1), Furcal (2), Martin (2). LOB- Los Angeles 14, Colorado 9. DP- Hu and Loney; Kent, Furcal and Loney; Furcal and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Kuroda 6.0 9 5-5 2 2 3.82 Wade 1.0 2 1-1 0 2 4.50 Broxton 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 2.53 Saito (bsv 2) 2.0 1 1-0 2 1 2.89 Park (1-0) 3.0 2 0-0 2 0 3.00 PB- Bennett. WP- Kuroda, Wade. T- 4:38. Att- 53,205.Dodger Blue Notes-- Tony Abreu, was optioned to Las Vegas on Thursday so the Dodgers could add 12th pitcher Cory Wade. ...Jason Schmidt threw off the Dodger Stadium mound. Backup catcher Gary Bennett, who caught the first 20 pitches, speculated that Schmidt might have reached 89-mph with his fastball. For some reason Schmidt declined to speak to reporters afterward, but trainer Stan Conte said, "What we set out to do was accomplished. We were between a bullpen here and a simulated game in Florida, or having hitters stand or swing. Schmidt wanted to throw to hitters, a very positive sign. He got loose quickly and that's a good indication. I'm happy we got to the 70-pitch count. At the times we've had to stop, we've only gotten to about 50. We'll see how he feels tomorrow before deciding what's next."