Maddux dazzles, Martin wins it for LA

Maddux dazzles, Martin wins it for LA

LOS ANGELES -- A masterpiece, manager Grady Little called it. And that's simply what Greg Maddux had through eight innings Sunday.

Maddux allowed just two hits, both in the first inning, and threw 68 pitches, the fewest needed this season for a starter to get through eight innings. The most pitches he threw in one inning were 10 in a 1-2-3 sixth.

"He's like a master," Russell Martin said. "He just has fun out there. Guys just put the ball in play, and he keeps his pitch count low. I've never seen anyone do that."

Maddux had the Sunday-evening crowd on its feet for a standing ovation as he left in the eighth, and he might have come back for more if it wasn't for the Dodgers' need to score an actual run during the game.

But the Giants' Jason Schmidt kept up well with the future Hall of Famer. It was, Felipe Alou said, a classic Giants-Dodgers matchup, reminiscent of those between Jack Sanford and Don Drysdale. Schmidt held the Dodgers scoreless through eight innings and racked up nine strikeouts.

Thus, Maddux's masterpiece evolved into an extra-inning pitchers' duel. And where the veteran Maddux put the Dodgers on the road toward victory, it was the rookie Martin that handed Los Angeles the 1-0 win with a walk-off homer in the 10th.

"Maddux really set the tone with his eight-inning shutout," Martin said. "I just put the nail in the coffin."

Los Angeles had put seven men on during the first nine innings but hadn't been able to knock them in. The Dodgers went down quietly in the ninth. The fast-paced game now looked as if it would drag on.

Martin made sure it didn't. Leading off the bottom of the 10th, he sent the second pitch he saw from Vinnie Chulk into deep left field for the game-winning home run. As he ran around the bases, his teammates gathered around home plate. Martin threw off his helmet in preparation for the friendly pummeling and ran into the Dodgers' pile.

"You dream to hit a walk-off anything," an all-smiles Martin said after the game. "To hit a walk-off home run against our rival Giants is something I'm going to remember for the rest of my days."

Maddux more than made up for a shaky first inning. He allowed a hit on the second pitch to Randy Winn. A single by Ray Durham put two on with one out in the first, but Maddux showed off his glove when he caught a drive off Barry Bonds' bat. Just like that, a double play got Maddux out of the jam.

He retired the next 21 batters in order.

"He played with us," Alou said. "He made us chase the pitches he wanted us to chase, and he made us hit the pitches he wanted to on the ground."

Mike Stanton said it was the best he had seen from Maddux. Maddux's performance outshined his Dodgers debut, and it was the third straight gem from the veteran right-hander. Maddux worked as usual: quickly and efficiently. He felt he had the same rhythm, but to most everyone else, it looked extra special.

Little took his 40-year-old starter out after eight innings. He took into consideration the number of pitches and the time Maddux was out there in the two-hour-and-27-minute game, but ultimately, the team needed to score. Maddux agreed and showed no sorrow for not going the distance.

"We needed the run," Maddux said. "I'm not a very good hitter, it's no secret. ... We're trying to go into the postseason, not see how many wins certain people can win."

Little also said it didn't matter that the pitch count was so low. The starter finished with two hits and four strikeouts in the no-decision.

"We've got big plans for this guy," Little said. "We've got to keep him strong until the end."

The Dodgers had a chance to score in the sixth, when they managed back-to-back hits off Schmidt. Nomar Garciaparra singled to left field and reached second on Jeff Kent's infield single. Omar Vizquel ran toward third base to track down Kent's hit, but his throw to second base was not in time to nab Garciaparra.

With two on and two out, however, Schmidt notched his seventh strikeout by fanning Andre Ethier. Ethier had three strikeouts as his 16-game hit streak came to an end.

Los Angeles also had a chance to score in the third, back when a win for Maddux was still in the works. Martin doubled with one out and moved to third on a groundout by Maddux. Rafael Furcal walked to put runners at second and third, but a fly ball ended the inning.

Brett Tomko allowed a leadoff hit in the ninth inning to Steve Finley, but the Dodgers took out the lead runner on Jose Vizcaino's bunt. It was a play Little called a key to the outcome. Takashi Saito, the winner, intentionally walked Bonds in the 10th but kept the Giants off the board with three popouts.

Martin's walk-off homer was the first one for the Dodgers this season. He did it in front of a sellout crowd of 55,699 at Chavez Ravine. Chulk threw a slider that stayed on the outside part of the plate, and Martin said he just extended his arms and it left.

The rookie catcher's game-winning shot gave the Dodgers 15 wins in their last 16 games.

Elizabeth Aguilar is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.