LOS ANGELES (AP)—Eric Gagne is slowly working his way back to peak form. Still, he was good enough in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
Gagne struck out two in a perfect inning for his first save since June 12, 2005. The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner returned May 30 from his second elbow surgery in an 11-month span.
“It’s good to go out there and be able to perform,” he said. “I just tried to go out there, do my business and try to get people out and get a save. There’s a little soreness, but it’s no big deal. I’m not 100 percent yet. It’s going to take a little while.”
Garciaparra, who spent parts of nine seasons as Martinez’s teammate in Boston, drove the right-hander’s first pitch into the left-field pavilion in the opening inning after a single by Kenny Lofton.
“It was odd facing Pedro because he’s a good friend of mind,” Garciaparra said. “We both go out there and compete hard and we have so much respect and admiration for each other. It’s a great friendship. But when you go out on the field, you compete as best you can.”
Rookie Matt Kemp homered for the fourth time in his last six games for the Dodgers, who took advantage of two errors and a wild pitch to score six runs in the sixth inning—four of which were charged to Martinez.
Derek Lowe (5-3) won his fourth straight start in his first matchup against the three-time Cy Young winner, who was Lowe’s teammate with Boston in 2004 when the Red Sox won their first World Series title since 1918. Lowe gave up two runs and five hits over six innings on the ninth anniversary of his first big league victory. He struck out three and walked four while pitching with a sinus problem.
“It was exciting,” Lowe said. “When Pedro flew out to center field and we crossed paths, there was no eye contact, so I knew not to make any jokes. Neither one of us was very sharp tonight. It wasn’t the smoothest game ever. There were a lot of guys on base.”
Martinez and Lowe combined for 30 of Boston’s 98 victories during Boston’s championship season. Lowe was the winning pitcher in all three postseason clinchers, including a relief stint in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.
Gagne and catcher Russell Martin became the first All-French-Canadian battery in the major leagues. Coincidentally, they both went to the same high school in Montreal, one of the few there that had a baseball program.
“It’s huge. It’s huge for the kids in Montreal and it’s huge for baseball in Canada in general because right now we don’t have a team in Montreal,” Gagne said.
“So it’s a special thing for me and Russell to go out be the first French-Canadian battery ever. I was looking forward to that.”
Martinez (5-2) was charged with seven runs—six earned—and eight hits in five-plus innings. He struck out six but remained winless in his last seven starts—the longest stretch since he went winless in his final seven outings of 2001.
“It was a bad day at the office,” Martinez said. “Even before the game, I didn’t feel like my body was there. I couldn’t make pitches. I was missing a lot. Physically there are some days when you feel like you can pitch, but today was a day where everything was lost for me.”
The Dodgers broke it open in the sixth. Kemp followed J.D. Drew’s leadoff single with a drive to left field for a 4-2 lead. The Dodgers then parlayed two errors by second baseman Jose Valentin into four more runs, two of which came on RBI singles by Martin and Rafael Furcal, who scored on Heath Bell’s wild pitch to make it 8-2.
The NL East-leading Mets, who scratched shortstop and leadoff hitter Jose Reyes right before the game because of a sore left wrist, lost left fielder Cliff Floyd to a sprained left ankle in the second.
Floyd was injured pulling into third base standing up on Valentin’s RBI double. Endy Chavez ran for Floyd and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lastings Milledge, who has five RBIs in his first seven big league games.
Garciaparra’s seventh home run extended his streak of reaching safely by a hit or a walk to 30 games. The two runs in the first equaled the number Martinez allowed in his previous 24 innings combined, but the Dodgers got only one hit over the next four innings.
X-rays on Reyes’ wrist showed no break. … The umpiring crew wore black wrist bands on their left arms in honor of former colleague Eric Gregg, who died Monday from a stroke at age 55. … A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Orel Hershiser, whose complete-game 6-0 victory over current Mets broadcaster Ron Darling clinched the 1988 NL championship series for the Dodgers.