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06/28/07 11:45 PM ET
Martin leads onslaught vs. Johnson
Dodgers hammer big lefty to move back into first place
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers found a Cy Young Award winner they could beat Thursday, making Randy Johnson wish he had stayed on the disabled list a little longer. After not scoring against Brandon Webb the night before, they disposed of Johnson and his bad back after three innings on the way to a 9-5 win, their third over the Diamondbacks in the four-game series, reclaiming a share of first place. Dodgers manager Grady Little had slumping Nomar Garciaparra on the bench and fielded a lineup with four kids that had never faced the 43-year-old Johnson. So, if this game and its result didn't represent a passing of the torch from old to young, it's in sight. Jeff Kent broke out of his slump with three hits and two RBIs, but the biggest blow was Russell Martin's two-run, 434-foot homer on an 0-2 pitch in the first inning off Johnson. Matt Kemp had two hits off Johnson, including an absolute laser that handcuffed center fielder Chris Young into a fielding error, one of two by Young and four by Arizona. James Loney had only one hit, which amounts to a slump for him, but he drew the greatest praise from a veteran when winning pitcher Randy Wolf credited Loney's arrival three weeks ago with igniting the offense. "It's amazing what Loney has done, he's been a spark to the offense," said Wolf, who allowed three runs and walked six in six-plus innings but raised his record to 9-6. "When he's up there, he gets a good at-bat almost every time. He puts the ball on the barrel. A guy like that does impact the lineup." The kids were not intimidated by Johnson's notoriety, although Martin (a triple shy of a cycle with three runs scored) gave an honest evaluation why. "He is Randy Johnson, but at the end of the day, he's still got to throw the ball over the plate and get people out," said Martin, likely to be named an All-Star for the first time on Sunday. "You can't go out there thinking, 'That's Randy Johnson, future Hall of Famer.' You have a game plan like you would for any pitcher. "And I also think, he's still good, but that's not the same stuff he had when I watched him on television and he was absolutely dominating back in the day. The 0-2 pitch I hit, when he was throwing 99 [mph], even if he misses his spot, he had the velocity to compensate and I foul it straight back. Not today." Along with not being fazed by the presence of an opposing legend, the young Dodgers are realizing they can be as good in the Major Leagues as they were together in the Minor Leagues. "We expect to do good," said Kemp. "After the first pitch today, my jitters were gone. This is just like when we played in the Minor Leagues, only they're bigger parks. All of us feel we can help the team win." Although the Dodgers stranded 13 runners for the second consecutive game, they had a 4-0 lead over Johnson after three innings, were up 6-0 after four innings and it was 9-1 when Brett Tomko took over for Wolf with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh. The top four in the lineup -- Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Martin and Kent -- went 10-for-21. "It's great for us to show we can come back and not get down after a game like yesterday," said Loney of Wednesday's 2-0 loss to the D-backs. Before it was over, Takashi Saito had to be summoned for his 22nd save, but the Dodgers were feeling pretty good with another huge series on deck against the Padres to open a 10-game homestand. Johnson's former Arizona teammate, Luis Gonzalez, pretty well laid out the strategy for beating Johnson the night before -- work deep into counts and get his pitch total up. Including Martin's homer, Johnson threw 30 pitches in the first inning, another 18 in the second and was up to 70 when lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the third. Wolf, who had lost three of his four previous starts, said the six walks he allowed indicated he hadn't completely ironed out his mechanical flaws. But he discounted any added motivation of facing a more famous Randy. "If you go in with a different mentality because it's Randy Johnson than a rookie, you'll be in trouble," he said. "You can't pump up more for a guy with an amazing reputation than for a guy you've never heard of."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.