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Martin Powers Dodgers to Slam Past Cubs

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The offensive slump the Dodgers found themselves in seemed to be alleviated with one crack of the bat in their 7-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning and the bases loaded with one out, catcher Russell Martin took the first pitch he saw from Cubs reliever Angel Guzman and drove it over the left centerfield wall for his second career grand slam.

“It felt good,” Martin said after the game. “Not many words needed this day. It felt good sitting on the ball, and really just trying to get at least one run in. I got four in, so it feels good.”

“That was big for us,” manager Joe Torre said of Martin’s grand slam. “Russell needed that. Just to have that kind of base hit in that kind of situation was big for us because it broke open a tie game. It just gave something for Russell to build on hopefully.”

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Up to that point the game had been a close affair with the Cubs responding each time the Dodgers had scored.

The Dodgers opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when shortstop Rafael Furcal led off the inning with a single. While center fielder Matt Kemp grinded through his at bat, Cub’s starter Tom Gorzelanny overthrew a pickoff play to first baseman Derrek Lee allowing Furcal to get to second. Furcal advanced to third on Kemp’s single.

Right fielder Andre Ethier gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead grounding into a force play at second scoring Furcal.

The Cubs responded in the top of the second when center fielder Kosuke Fukudome hit a solo home run, his 11th of the season, to right field to tie the game at one.

The Dodgers would take the lead back in the second inning. After first baseman James Loney struck out looking, catcher Russell Martin walked and advanced to second on pitcher Jeff Weaver’s sacrifice bunt. Furcal drove Martin home with a single up the middle giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

The Cubs then responded in the third inning when third baseman Aramis Ramirez batted right fielder Milton Bradley home with a single in the third inning to tie the game 2-2.

To set the stage for Martin’s heroics in the sixth inning left fielder Manny Ramirez and third baseman Casey Blake led the inning with back-to-back singles after Cubs reliever Angel Guzman replaced Gorzelanny. After second baseman Orlando Hudson sacrificed Blake and Ramirez to second and third, Guzman walked Loney intentionally to load the bases.

“If you know a little bit about baseball, one out and you got righty on deck you’re going to walk to get hopefully the double play in order,” Martin said about the Cubs intentionally walking Loney to get to him.

“I wasn’t really thinking too much of it. I was just focused on getting a good pitch to hit.”

Ramirez went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double scoring twice. It was Ramirez’s two-out double in the seventh inning that led to the insurance run when Blake singled him home extending the lead 7-2.

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“I think Manny staying in the middle of the field really helped today,” Torre said. “Even though he hit one right to the third baseman, but the fact of the matter is that it just looked like his swing was more controllable tonight.”

Not to go unmentioned was the job of the pitching staff. Starter Jeff Weaver went 5 1/3 innings giving up two runs on five hits and two intentional walks with four strike outs. Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso and Guillermo Mota combined for the Dodgers to give up only three hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings to keep the Cubs scoreless.

“It starts with Weaver,” Torre said. “He’s a bullpen guy and he comes in there and gives us an effective five innings.

“He gave us an opportunity to go to the bullpen guys like Belisario, Troncoso and Mota to finish it up and give [Jonathan] Broxton and [George] Sherrill the night off.”

Hopefully this can be the start of a string of wins for the Dodgers.