At the conclusion of what was supposed to be a brutal nine-game stretch that marked their first real test of the season, the Dodgers were still standing.
Quite tall, in fact.
The Dodgers headed into their off day today with the best record in baseball, their 2-1 victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium improving them to 29-13.
By sweeping the Mets in three games and knocking them out of first place in the National League East, the Dodgers won each of the three series they played over the last nine days, which included visits to Philadelphia and Florida.
The Dodgers, 17-3 at home and leading the NL West by 8 1/2 games, culminated this 7-2 run with a victory delivered by an eighth-inning single by Russell Martin, who drove in Orlando Hudson to end a hitless streak that lasted 12 at-bats.
"It's definitely a nice way to break out of a little slump," said Martin, who joked before the game that he was due for a change in fortune because he'd moved from the Hollywood Hills to Hermosa Beach that day.
Martin had already overcome an April in which he'd hit only .205, entering Wednesday night's game with a .353 average in May.
"I'm just more aggressive at the plate," he said. "I'm seeing the ball better too."
Martin's up-and-down form was one of several obstacles the Dodgers had to overcome in recent weeks.
No Manny? No problem.
Pitchers hurt? No problem.
A shortage of bench players?
There wasn't any relief in sight Wednesday.
Eric Stults was scratched because of a sprained left thumb, forcing long reliever Jeff Weaver to make his third unexpected start in 15 days. Weaver himself had problems, as a blood blister developed on his middle finger in the first inning. And because the Dodgers had 13 pitchers on their roster -- something Manager Joe Torre admitted was less than ideal -- their first pinch-hitter on this night was pitcher Randy Wolf.
But again, the problems weren't problems, in large part because of a bullpen that turned in four shutout innings, including two by Ramon Troncoso and another by Jonathan Broxton that earned him his 11th save.
Picking up his first major league victory was rookie Brent Leach, who got the Dodgers out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth inning.
"This team plays every inning," Torre said when asked what he learned about his team over its last nine games. "It sounds simple, but it's not easy to do."
Weaver did his part, as for five innings he kept pace with Mets starter Livan Hernandez, who had his best start of the season.
Weaver, who was called up from triple-A Albuquerque on April 30 as a long reliever, lowered his earned-run average to 3.00 by limiting the Mets to a run and four hits over five innings.
The Mets had men on the corners in the first inning, but Weaver worked his way out of trouble by striking out Daniel Murphy to end the inning.
Ryan Church doubled to start the second, but, again, Weaver didn't break, retiring the next three batters.
The Mets finally put a run on the board in the third inning. Luis Castillo scored from first on a double by Carlos Beltran to tie the score at 1-1. Weaver limited the damage, walking David Wright and forcing Murphy to ground into an inning-ending double play.
The Dodgers had taken the lead in the first inning, as Juan Pierre reached on an infield single and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier. For Ethier, the run batted in was only his third in his 12 games without Manny Ramirez hitting in front of him.
Hernandez didn't give up another run, as he threw only 93 pitches over a season-high seven innings.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times