Martin was in a 2-for-23 funk when Duaner Sanchez walked him with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Friday night. The Dodgers' two-time All-Star catcher is batting .198 in 21 games with just 12 RBIs.
"He's fighting it right now," manager Joe Torre said. "I just think that maybe he has too many things going on in his mind on the mechanical part of it. He's frustrated by his hitting, but the catching part has really taken up most of his time. I mean, he's already here when I get here -- sitting in the video room with the pitchers, doing a lot of things that didn't go on last year. And it's paying off for us as a team. I know that."
The defending NL West champions are 8-0 at home for the first time since 1947, when the Brooklyn Dodgers won their first eight games at Ebbets Field. The year before, they set a franchise record by winning their first nine games on Bedford Avenue.
Jake Peavy, who came in 13-2 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 2.39 ERA, allowed just two hits and a walk over eight innings before Sanchez (1-1) gave up a leadoff single in the ninth to Rafael Furcal. Orlando Hudson bunted into a force play, then advanced on a wild pitch to Manny Ramirez.
Sanchez walked Ramirez intentionally, then struck out James Loney before loading the bases with a walk to Matt Kemp. Martin fouled off several two-strike pitches before the 3-2 pitch.
"It might not have been pretty, but I'll take it," Martin said. "At 3-2, the hitter has the advantage because the pitcher has to throw a strike. I just tried to battle on every pitch."
Jonathan Broxton (3-0) pitched a perfect ninth inning for the win.
Peavy had eight strikeouts in his longest outing at Dodger Stadium. The two-time All-Star was coming off consecutive losses against San Francisco and Pittsburgh, giving up 11 earned runs over 11 innings.
"Unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side of the score tonight. But I've pitched in tight ballgames my whole career, so it's nothing new to me," the 2007 NL Cy Young winner said. "These are tough to swallow. We needed this one, against a team that we're trying to show we're as good as."
Torre again had his starting pitcher bat eighth in the lineup ahead of center fielder Juan Pierre, two nights after employing that same formula for the first time in 28 seasons as a big league manager. Pierre was 1-for-3 with a two-out single in the third -- the Dodgers' only hit until Hudson singled with two out in the sixth.
Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' 21-year-old left-hander, matched zeros with Peavy through seven innings and allowed four hits before giving way to Ronald Belisario after 99 pitches.
In his previous two outings, both on the road, Kershaw gave up 15 runs over nine innings of work in losses to Houston and Colorado. This effort was a much-needed shot in the arm for the Dodgers' overworked bullpen, after starters Eric Stults and rookie James McDonald lasted a combined 4 1-3 innings over the previous two games.
"As well as Peavy was pitching, it forced me to concentrate and make quality pitches just to compete with him," Kershaw said.
The Padres got a runner as far as second base three times against Kershaw, including the fourth and fifth innings, when Scott Hairston and Kevin Kouzmanoff led off with doubles.
"We can't buy a win right now," Padres second baseman David Eckstein said after the Padres' ninth loss in 11 games. "When you've got a guy like Peavy going out there and pitching like that for you, you've got to find a way to score some runs -- because we're a club that can't waste that type of performance."