TORONTO (AP)—Russell Martin wrapped up a memorable trip to Toronto by driving home the go-ahead run.
The Canadian-born catcher hit a bases-loaded double in the eighth inning, sparking a six-run rally, Jeff Kent added a two-run homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-4 on Thursday night.
“It feels good anywhere you get a big hit to take the lead but it feels even better where you’re at home in Canada,” Martin said.
Playing in his hometown for the first time as a professional, Martin was besieged by local media, holding a press conference for some two dozen reporters before Tuesday’s opener. The 24-year-old didn’t let the attention distract him, going 3-for-12 with a homer and four RBIs in the three-game series.
“He’s been a busy young man here for a few days but he stands up to situations like that as well as anyone that we have,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “He went up there that last at-bat with the bases loaded and had it in his mind he wasn’t going to be overanxious. He got good results.”
Martin is 3-for-4 with 10 RBIs in bases loaded situations this season, with two doubles and one grand slam.
Born in Toronto but raised in Chelsea, Quebec, Martin said playing in front of family and friends was the best part of his trip north of the border.
“A lot of them had never seen me play at all, let alone professionally,” Martin said. “It was a great opportunity to see them and they had a good time watching me.”
“It was just fun to be in Toronto, in Canada and playing professionally,” he added. “It’s something you dream about when you’re a kid. It’s definitely something I’ll remember for a long time.”
The Dodgers trailed 3-2 to begin the eighth before mounting a one-out rally against right-hander Casey Janssen (2-1).
Nomar Garciaparra greeted Janssen with a single before Kent doubled off the top of the right-field wall.
“You wonder what would have happened if had ball just gone over the fence,” Little said. “It stayed in the park and good things followed.”
Luis Gonzalez was walked intentionally to bring up Martin, who doubled into the right-field corner, scoring Garciaparra and Kent.
“You know in that situation he’s going to have to throw a strike sooner or later,” Martin said. “I was just waiting for a pitch I could do something with. He threw another pitch earlier that I probably should have hit. Luckily he threw me another pitch in my zone that I could do something with.”
Janssen didn’t retire any of the six batters he faced, allowing six runs and five hits and a walk. The outing raised Janssen’s ERA from 0.95 to 2.37. He entered the game having allowed four earned runs in 38 innings this season.
“I was terrible,” Janssen said.
Rudy Seanez (4-1) got two outs for the victory.
The Dodgers’ rally denied Toronto right-hander Shaun Marcum his third straight victory. Marcum gave up two runs and two hits over six innings, walking three and striking out one. He didn’t allow a hit until Abreu singled through the right side with two outs in the fifth.
The Blue Jays opened the scoring in the second when Aaron Hill hit a two-run homer to right, but Los Angeles tied the game in the sixth when Kent homered to left.
Toronto broke the tie in the sixth against left-hander Mark Hendrickson. Matt Stairs led off with a double, went to third on Troy Glaus’ fly out and, following an intentional walk to Frank Thomas, scored when Gregg Zaun flied out to left.
Zaun added another sacrifice fly in the eighth off reliever Jonathan Broxton.
Making his first start of the season in place of the injured Jason Schmidt, 22-year-old right-hander Chad Billingsley allowed two runs and two hits over 3 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out one.
“It felt good to be back out there again starting,” said Billingsley, who made 16 starts in 2006. “The main thing was trying to pace myself. I didn’t want to burn myself out after the first 25 pitches.”
Billingsley will start again in Arizona next Tuesday.
“He was strong throughout,” Little said. “We were really pleased with the way he threw the ball.”
Toronto’s Vernon Wells, who signed a seven-year, $126 million contract in the offseason, was held hitless in five at-bats and is in an 0-for-17 slump.
Marcum pitched six no-hit innings in his first start of the season, May 13 against Tampa Bay, but was pulled after throwing 78 pitches. He has allowed more than two earned runs in only two of his eight starts. … Adrian Johnson umpired at third base in place of Eric Cooper, who left Wednesday’s game after six innings because of a pulled muscle.