"Good teams don't live in the past," Russell Martin said after racing home from second base on Andre Ethier's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 comeback win over the Phillies on Tuesday night.
"Right now, we're a good team and we're always concentrating on what's next. The past is over and done with and there's nothing you can do but learn from it. This shows the type of character we have, to come out against a good team and win the first two games of the series."
The slumping Martin led off the ninth by getting hit on the foot by a J.C. Romero slider. Martin moved to second on James Loney's groundout to bring up Ethier, who entered the game in an eighth-inning double-switch.
The left-handed Romero threw the left-handed Ethier nothing but hard stuff. Ethier took the first two for a ball and a strike, fouled off three tough ones before lining the last one over shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Martin barely beat the throw home from left fielder So Taguchi, and the celebration was on.
"It's a great feeling. You want to be the guy in that situation," said Ethier. "I've faced him before [1-for-2 previously with an RBI] and he's tough on lefties. He's got a great sinker, he's able to execute, he gets lefties to roll over and I was trying not to. I got something over the plate, fouled off tough ones to get into the situation to put a good swing on the ball."
The win only allowed the Dodgers to keep pace with the first-place D-backs, but in the wake of the weekend's disappointment, there seems to be more at stake.
"We feel this is an important week for us," said manager Joe Torre, who moved past Joe McCarthy for seventh place on the all-time win list for managers with 2,127.
"We have to play Philadelphia and Milwaukee and they're in pennant races themselves. We have to find out where we are. After two tough losses in San Francisco, to get back-to-back wins is important. It's been a team effort the last few weeks, we've really played hard. The addition of Manny [Ramirez] has picked up the personality of the club."
Matt Kemp had three hits for the third consecutive game, scoring twice. Ramirez drove in one run, was hit by a pitch preceding Casey Blake's game-tying sacrifice fly in the eighth and, in a real Dodgers rarity, was intentionally walked in the first inning, only for Blake to answer the challenge with an RBI single. Blake has nine RBIs in his last 10 games.
The Dodgers turned to rookie starter Clayton Kershaw and he responded with a career-high eight strikeouts (including five straight) and a quality start, but allowed single runs in each of the first three innings.
"I was making mistakes, but after the first three innings, my curveball improved and that made the difference," said Kershaw.
Kershaw left after six innings, trailing in his duel with Cole Hamels, 3-1, and the short-handed Dodgers bullpen followed with three hitless innings. Joe Beimel, on Joe Beimel Bobblehead Night, went 1-2-3 in the seventh.
"It felt good, I can't lie," said Beimel. "My family and friends are here and I get to pitch in the game and we win. It's a real exciting night for me."
Then Hong-Chih Kuo -- with Jonathan Broxton unavailable after making 33 pitches in Monday night's save and Cory Wade too sore to pitch -- rebounded from his blown save Sunday by pitching scoreless in the eighth and ninth against the Phillies, raising his record to 4-2 and lowering his ERA to 1.70.
"He shows no fear out there," said Torre. "He's dealing with pressure. In Spring Training, the only thing I heard was how many injuries he's had. Knock on wood, he's been terrific."
Juan Pierre, in a rare start, scored the Dodgers' second run after a bunt single. Jeff Kent had a key walk preceding the Chad Durbin pitch that struck Ramirez on the left arm to load the bases for Blake. Nomar Garciaparra returned from the disabled list and started at shortstop.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less