LOS ANGELES (AP)—All-Star catcher Russell Martin was playing third base in place of the injured Nomar Garciaparra by the time the Los Angeles Dodgers left the field 4 hours and 38 minutes after the first pitch.
Friday night’s 13-inning marathon finally ended on Martin’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly, just 19 minutes after midnight local time. He went 4-for-4 with a pair of walks and two RBIs, leading the Dodgers to an 8-7 victory over a weary Colorado Rockies club that had gone 22 innings to beat the San Diego Padres just eight nights earlier.
But the evening took its toll on the Dodgers, as Garciaparra and center fielder Andruw Jones left the game with injuries.
General manager Ned Colletti acknowledged that Garciaparra may have to go back on the disabled list Saturday. In all likelihood, the team will recall Blake DeWitt, who started the season at third in Garciaparra’s absence after the six-time All-Star broke a bone in his right hand on a pitch from St. Louis’ Kyle McClellan on March 7.
“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.”
The Dodgers snapped a string of seven straight losses to the defending NL champions. Chan Ho Park (1-0) allowed two hits over three scoreless innings for his first win as a Dodger since 2001.
Taylor Buchholz (1-2) gave up the winning run, which was set up by shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s error on Matt Kemp’s grounder in the hole. Gary Bennett singled for his first hit with the Dodgers, putting runners at the corners, and a one-out walk to James Loney loaded the bases for Martin.
“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.”
Closer Takashi Saito came in with a 7-6 lead in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs, then a double by Scott Podsednik that sent pinch-runner Willy Taveras to third. Garciaparra strained his left calf trying to reach Podsednik’s hit inside the bag, forcing Martin to remove his catcher’s gear and play third for the first time in his big league career.
It wasn’t much of a stretch for Martin, who played third base for five seasons—including his first in the minor leagues. He was converted into a catcher at the end of the 2002 season when he played in the Gulf Coast League.
“When they drafted me, they’d already talked about it. I think I made the right call,” Martin said with a grin.
Bennett, the Dodgers’ little-used backup catcher, committed a passed ball on Saito’s next pitch, allowing Taveras to score the tying run and leaving Saito with his second blown save in four chances.
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda allowed five runs and nine hits over six innings. He had three chances to help himself out at the plate with a combined seven runners on base, but was 0-for-3 and grounded out with the bases loaded in the fourth. Kuroda had just seven RBIs in 371 plate appearances (324 at-bats) during his career with Hiroshima in the Japanese Central League.
Ubaldo Jimenez gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks in just 2 1-3 innings. One of the Dodgers’ runs came on the right-hander’s third wild pitch of the game. Jimenez has eight this season in just 23 2-3 innings, after throwing three wild pitches over his previous 89 2-3 innings in the big leagues.
“Our starter misfired dramatically,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It was a game we wanted to win and didn’t.”
But the Dodgers pulled ahead 6-4 in the bottom half, as Rafael Furcal started the five-run rally with a bunt hit. Garciaparra singled home a run, then Jimenez bounced two pitches past Yorvit Torrealba with Jeff Kent at the plate— the second one allowing Jones to score.
Martin added an RBI single and Juan Pierre chased the Rockies’ beleaguered starter with a two-run single. The 42-pitch half-inning inning finally ended when Kip Wells struck out Jones with the bases loaded.
During that at-bat, Jones fouled a pitch off his left calf and did his best to walk off the pain. He returned to center field after getting checked out by a trainer, but his sudden lack of mobility prevented him from catching up with an RBI double by Podsednik that plopped into right-center to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 6-5.
Kemp took over for Jones defensively in the fifth and singled his first two times up.
RHP Jason Schmidt, who has made only six starts for the Dodgers since signing a three-year, $47 million contract in December 2006, declined to talk about Friday’s simulated game in which he threw 70 pitches and used his entire repertoire. The 14-year veteran hasn’t started since last June 16 and underwent shoulder surgery four days later. … Rockies OF Brad Hawpe has reached base on a hit or a walk in 20 consecutive games since going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on opening day. His previous best streak was 19 straight two seasons ago.