Left-hander Hendrickson strong again

Lefty Hendrickson strong again

LOS ANGELES -- Pitcher Mark Hendrickson stood at his locker after Wednesday afternoon's game against the D-backs and said he really liked the way catcher Russell Martin called the game.

Martin answered by saying he thinks the two of them have gotten in a groove and that Hendrickson is starting to trust him behind the plate.

And it was that chemistry between pitcher and catcher that led the Dodgers past the D-backs, 2-1, in front of a crowd of 34,825 at Dodger Stadium.

"Russ and I have been working well together," Hendrickson said. "Early on, we noticed that my cutter was effective, and we kept working it in there."

Hendrickson started his third game of the season and his first at Dodger Stadium this season and cruised past the D-backs. He kept the D-backs' hitters at bay with a sharp fastball and a cutter that Martin said was biting hard.

"We were mainly using his cutter, trying to get guys out by throwing it in under their hands," Martin said. "[Hendrickson] is pitching with a lot of confidence and he's using the inside part of the plate well."

Hendrickson (2-0) went six innings, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out seven. The lefty improved his ERA to 1.30, giving him the best ERA in the Major Leagues among pitchers with 20 or more innings.

"This year, every time he's taken the mound for us he's had a good outing," manager Grady Little said. "It's all about the confidence level. He's operating at a high confidence level right now."

The Dodgers' offense, however, hasn't been operating at a high level, as the team again struggled to produce runs and left 10 runners on base.

After averaging nearly five runs per game in their first 23 games, the Dodgers are averaging just 2.4 runs a game in their past five contests. The team has scored only 12 runs and has left 51 men on base in that span.

The Dodgers had two opportunities to get a hit with the bases loaded Wednesday and both times they could not. The Dodgers are 2-for-32 (.063) with the bases loaded this season, which is becoming a concern for Little.

"We've got to figure out a way to get these bats going, especially when we get the bases loaded," Little said. "Right now it seems like every time we get the bases loaded, that's where we're in our worst spot. We need to try and score before we get the bases loaded."

The Dodgers ran into a tough pitcher Wednesday afternoon in Arizona lefty Doug Davis, who allowed only an unearned run on five hits while striking out seven in seven innings.

After being shut out for the first five innings, the Dodgers grabbed the lead in the bottom half of the sixth after shortstop Rafael Furcal hit a deep fly ball to center field with one out that center fielder Chris Young misudged and then dropped as he lost his footing at the warning track.

Furcal cruised into second base and promptly scored on a line-drive hit by Juan Pierre to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

The Dodgers picked up an insurance run in the eighth after Martin hit a two-out single, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Andre Ethier, who was down in the count 0-2 before slapping the ball past the glove of third baseman Alberto Callaspo.

"He made a mistake on 0-2 and it turned out to be a an important run," said Ethier of the pitch he got from D-backs pitcher Doug Slaten. "I keep saying, 'Just play your game and just let stuff happen.'"

The Dodgers received another solid performance from the bullpen, as Chin-hui Tsao and Jonathan Broxton each pitched a scoreless inning.

Closer Takashi Saito gave up a run in the ninth inning but kept his composure, striking out the final two batters to record his eighth save.

"For us to get two of three against those guys was big," Hendrickson said. "We're headed in a good direction as we go to Atlanta."

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