Martin Sparks Dodgers Sweep Of Mets

Russell Martin hasn't provided the Los Angeles Dodgers with nearly as much offense as they've become accustomed to from their two-time All-Star catcher, and the clutch hits have been few and far between.

But Wednesday night Martin came through, delivering a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning and the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the New York Mets with a 2-1 victory.

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

Orlando Hudson singled with one out against J.J. Putz (1-3), who walked Andre Ethier before Martin lined the right-hander's 1-0 pitch to left field for his 16th RBI of the season. The hit helped the defending NL West champions improve their major league-best record to 29-13 and extend their division lead over San Francisco to 8¬Ω games.

The Dodgers' 17-3 start at home tied a modern major league record for 20 games, last accomplished by the 1998 Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Joe Torre also managed that Yankees team.

The Mets, who came into Chavez Ravine on Monday with a half-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East, now trail the Phillies by a full game after their fourth straight loss. The road trip began with three straight wins against the Giants.

"We knew at the start of this trip that it would be a tough one and would be a big test for us," third baseman David Wright said. "We started out good, but then we struggled. We played poorly and the Dodgers played great. But we can't feel sorry for ourselves."

Rookie left-hander Brent Leach (1-0) earned his first major league win, retiring both batters he faced in the eighth. Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save in 13 attempts.

The Mets, 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and 3 for 27 overall in the series, squandered an opportunity to take the lead in the top of the eighth after putting runners at second and third with one out.

Leach replaced Ronald Belisario and escaped the jam, retiring Daniel Murphy on a grounder to first with the infield in and getting pinch-hitter Fernando Tatis on a grounder to short.

"That's kind of what we've been dealing with this whole series — not getting the big hit," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We had a good shot at it right there — second and third, infield in, but we didn't get it done. In the position we're in now, with the pieces that we have now, it's going to be challenging to put a lot of runs on the board. So when we get opportunities, we really have to take advantage of them."

Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was replaced by Ramon Martinez in the bottom of the third inning after aggravating a troublesome right calf that forced him to miss five games. The Mets' all-time stolen base leader tried to leg out a grounder deep in the hole on the right side of the infield, but was thrown out by second baseman Hudson, who made a one-hop throw from the outfield grass.

"I think it happened in that at-bat," Manuel said. "I saw some grimacing during the AB. Then once he hit the ball and put it in play, he felt some pain and discomfort. It was obvious that he was struggling with it. How much damage there is, we don't know."

Murphy, who had played in left field the first 1½ months this season, started at first base for the first time in his big league career — using Carlos Delgado's glove. Delgado is expected to be sidelined until at least late July after undergoing hip surgery on Tuesday.

With left-hander Eric Stults missing his turn in the rotation because of a sprained thumb on his pitching hand, Jeff Weaver made his third start of the season. He allowed a run and four hits over five innings while stranding a runner at third base in each of the first two. Stults is expected to make his next start on Monday afternoon at Colorado.

Livan Hernandez pitched seven innings for the Mets, allowing a run and seven hits.


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