Leach, Martin Heros in Dodgers 2-1 Win

The Dodgers are tougher to beat at home than Macaulay Culkin. In running their record to 17-3 with a 2-1 win over the New York Mets, it gives them a sweep of the three game series, four straight wins and seven of the last eight. The winning run was driven in by Russell Martin in the eighth, breaking an 0-for-11 slide. They now lead second place San Francisco by 8 1/2 games.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Dodgers' 17-3 start at home tied a modern major league record for 20 games, last accomplished by the 1998 Yankees, a team also managed by Joe Torre. Over the last nine games, the Dodgers went 7-2 against three solid teams in the National League East -- Philadelphia, Florida and New York.

The Dodgers' 8 1/2-game lead in the NL West is their largest since 1988 and things worked out pretty well that year.

With left-hander Eric Stults out of action with a sprained thumb on his pitching hand, swingman Jeff Weaver made his third star and allowed a single run in five innings, leaving a Met runner at third base in both the first and second.

Weaver, who was called up from triple-A Albuquerque on April 30 as a long reliever, lowered his earned-run average to 3.00 by limiting the Mets to a run and four hits over five innings.

In the spirit of "a new hero every night," rookie left-hander Brent Leach(1-0) took over for Ronald Belisario and collected his first major league win, retiring both batters he faced in the eighth, retiring the side with runners at second and third. With the score tied 1-1, he got Daniel Murphy on a ground ball to first pinch-hitter Fernando Tatis on a bouncer to short.

Jonathan Broxton(notes) pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save in 13 attempts.

Orlando Hudson, who ran his hitting streak to 11 games after leaving the night before with a bruised shoulder, singled with one out and J.J. Putz walked Andre Ethier before Martin lined a 1-0 pitch to left for his 16th RBI of the season.

"I guess if I was going to pick one time to get a hit, it would be just then," said Martin, who was hitless in his previous 11 at-bats during the series. "I picked the right time, and it worked out."

Martin had fought through an April hitting only .205, and has improved with a .353 average in May. "I'm just more aggressive at the plate," he said. "I'm seeing the ball better too."

Weaver and the bullpen were remarkable. Weaver worked five innings while draining a bleeding blister between innings, He allowed one run over five innings until Torre decided that was enough and went to Ramon Troncoso, who threw two scoreless innings.

Weaver glossed over the blister, saying "It's not an issue. It's something you deal with, like sometimes you don't have a fastball or a changeup. This time it was something with the finger. You grind it out and find a way to make things happen. I didn't lose command, I was able to pound the strike zone, it didn't affect me too much. If it had, things would have been different early in the game."

Belisario walked a pair and turned the game over to Leach who weathered the pressure, ended the inning and earned the win.

He came into Wednesday night's game with a 7.36 ERA in six appearances, but that didn't faze Torre.

"I can't say enough about Leach," Torre said of the 26-year-old left-hander, who came on with runners on second and third and retired the side. Leach is a sixth-round pick out of Delta State who was pitching at Class A Inland Empire a year ago and appeared in five spring training games before being sent out with an 8.31 ERA. Leach was sent to Chattanooga and pitched extremely well, so when Scott Elbert had trouble and Hong-Chih Kuo's elbow flared up, Leach got the call.

"Initially, I only wanted to put him in games with five-run leads and it turns out I put him in with the game on the line," Torre said. "But I had no problem bringing him in today. He's able to throw strikes. I really enjoy watching this kid grow."

Due to the remarkable Dodgers pitching both in this game and over the three-game series, the Mets went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and 3-for-27 overall. The Mets began their road trip with three straight wins over the Giants but have now lost four in a row. Their half-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East, is now a one-game deficit.

"We play every inning, and that sounds pretty simple, but it's not easy to do," manager Joe Torre said. "We've been a patient ballclub and we've played well under pressure. That says a lot to me."

The Dodgers scored again in the first inning when Juan Pierre and Rafael Furcal singled, Hudson moved them up with a bouncer to first base and Andre Ethier's sacrifice fly allowed Pierre to score. It was only his third RBI in his 12 games without Manny Ramirez hitting in front of him.

In the 29 games Ethier played with Ramirez in the lineup, he hit .317 with six home runs and 27 runs batted in. Over the next 11 games he dipped to .125 with no home runs and two runs batted in. He finished the series final game with a .257 average.

The Mets finally put a run on the board in the third inning off the stubborn Weaver. Luis Castillo singled, then scored from first on a double by Carlos Beltran to tie the score at 1-1. Weaver limited the damage, walking David Wright and forcing Murphy to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The two clubs couldn't break into the scoring column again until Martin's game-winning RBI single in the eighth.

The Dodgers headed into their off day today with the best record in baseball, and will host the Angels for three games over he week-end.

  Score by Innings
New York	001 000 000-1
Los Angeles	100 000 01x-2

  Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  1  2  0  .405
Furcal ss	4  0  1  0  .239
Hudson 2b	4  1  2  0  .345
Ethier rf	2  0  0  1  .253
Martin c	4  0  1  1  .263
Loney 1b	3  0  1  0  .274
Paul cf	        3  0  0  0  .214
 Belisario p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Leach p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Loretta ph	1  0  0  0  .350
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
Blake 3b	2  0  1  0  .287
Weaver p	1  0  0  0  .143
 Wolf ph	1  0  0  0  .100
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Kemp ph-cf	1  0  1  0  .281
  Totals  	30 2 9 2
  Mets	        33 1 7 1

  2B- Hudson (15). RBI- Martinez (30),
Martin (16). SF- Ethier. LOB- Los
Angeles 8, Mets 9. DP- Furcal and

  Los Angeles	 in  h r-er bb so  era
Weaver 	        5.0  4  1-1  2  1  3.00
Troncoso 	2.0  2  0-0  0  2  1.69
Belisario 	0.1  0  0-0  2  0  2.70
Leach (1-0)	0.2  0  0-0  0  0  6.23
Broxton (sv 11)	1.0  1  0-0  0  0  1.29
  WP- Troncoso. T- 2:56. Att- 50,761.
Dodger Blue Notes --After the Dodgers' first three games of the homestand, Manny Ramirez was still at his Florida home, according to sources. When Ramirez will leave Miami to start working out at the Dodgers' spring training complex in Arizona remains uncertain. There are indications that he'll apologize for violating baseball's drug policy. ...With 13 pitchers on their roster their first pinch-hitter in the final game of the series was pitcher Randy Wolf. ...Former Fox Broadcasting baseball pregame show host Jeanne Zelasko will serve as the play-by-play announcer while Dodger assistant coach Mark Sweeney will serve as the analyst for the DodgersWIN broadcast. ...Orlando Hudson, who bruised his left shoulder attempting a diving catch Tuesday night and was listed as day-to-day, was back in the Dodgers' lineup. Hudson is the only player to have started each of the Dodgers' 42 games. ...Matt Kemp was out of the lineup because Torre said he wanted to get Xavier Paul a start. Paul started for only the second time since being called up from Las Vegas on May 7 to replace Ramirez on the active roster. ...The Mets have gone seven games, 69 2-3 innings and 265 official at-bats since their last home run—a solo shot by Gary Sheffield(notes) on May 13.

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