Martinez Gets His 20th Victory With Five-Hitter : Baseball: He defeats Padres, 2-1, to become the youngest Dodger pitcher to reach the milestone since Ralph Branca did it in 1947.


Appropriately, Ramon Martinez’s right arm was soaked in a tub of ice, along with a magnum of champagne.

“Ramon’s too young to drink,” somebody joked.

Martinez grinned. “Today I gonna drink,” he said.

Actually, Martinez is of age, barely. He’s 22, and on Monday night he did something not many players--his age or otherwise--accomplish. He earned his 20th victory, although he needed some ninth-inning heroics to beat the San Diego Padres, 2-1.

Afterward, Martinez returned to the field to wave the game ball and acknowledge the ovation from a crowd of 23,730 at Dodger Stadium.


At 20-6, Martinez became the Dodgers’ youngest 20-game winner since 21-year-old Ralph Branca won 21 in 1947. Martinez also finished with a 2.92 earned-run average, 223 strikeouts, a major league best 12 complete games and won his last five decisions. Along the way he had an 18-strikeout game, pitched in the All-Star Game and was 13-0 against Western Division teams.

That was enough for Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda to push Martinez for the Cy Young Award.

“I mean nothing demeaning to (Doug) Drabek or (Frank) Viola or (Dwight) Gooden, but this young man should be voted the Cy Young Award and I’ll tell you why,” Lasorda said.

“He was winning early when we were really struggling. He was the only (Dodger) winning. That’s what should get it for him. Pittsburgh’s played good all year for Drabek, and the Mets also were in it all the way with Viola and Gooden. I don’t know what criteria you’re using (for the Cy Young vote), but I gotta say something nice about my guy.”

It’s a good thing Lasorda was in a talkative mood, because his young right-hander was so excited after the game he was sometimes speechless.

“I feel so excited, I never feel something like I feel today,” he said, flashing a constant beguiling grin. “I feel so special, winning 20 games. . . . I’m just starting my career. I hope to win a lot more.”

As well as he pitched, Martinez was close to leaving without a decision. The Padres’ Andy Benes, at 23, was nearly Martinez’s match Monday. They battled evenly, 1-1, into the ninth, each having been hurt only by solo home runs.


“Let me tell you, Mr. Benes threw exceptionally hard tonight,” Eddie Murray said.

Padre third baseman Mike Pagliarulo broke up the scoreless game, leading off the fifth by lofting his sixth home run into the right-field pavilion.

The Dodgers finally broke through against Benes in the eighth, when Juan Samuel hit Benes’ third pitch of the inning on a low line over the left-field fence to tie the score and save Martinez’s chance at the victory. The run meant the Dodgers didn’t pinch-hit for him two batters later.

“You’ll never know (how close he came to pinch-hitting),” Lasorda said. “I’m never gonna tell you.”

Martinez, who allowed only five hits, gave up a walk and a single in the ninth but got out of trouble by picking off pinch-runner Roberto Alomar, then striking out Benito Santiago to end the inning.

Benes (10-11) was nicked for a leadoff single by Chris Gwynn, who continued to second when Joe Carter bobbled the ball in center. Jose Offerman then ran for Gwynn, and Murray followed with a run-scoring single.

“When Eddie hit it, I jumped, I never feel like that in my life,” Martinez said.

Said Carter: “What do I like about (Martinez)? It would be easier to answer, ‘What don’t you like about him?’ The ball never comes straight. He throws hard. You’ve got to tip your cap to him. A guy like that comes along once every 10 to 15 years.”


The victory snapped the Dodgers’ four-game losing streak and put them back into sole possession of second place in the Western division as San Francisco lost to Atlanta, 5-3.

Dodger Notes

Tonight’s game has been pushed back to a 7:30 start to accommodate ESPN, though the Atlanta-San Francisco game will be shown in the Los Angeles area. . . . The Dodgers announced that Tom Lasorda’s coaching staff will be retained for next season. The staff includes Bill Russell, third base coach Joe Amalfitano, batting coach Ben Hines, pitching coach Ron Perranoski, bullpen coach Mark Cresse, eye in the sky Joe Ferguson and Manny Mota. . . . On Wednesday, the Dodgers could top 3 million in attendance, for the first time since 1986.

In an exchange of pitchers Monday, the Dodgers traded left-hander Mike Munoz to Detroit for right-hander Mike Wilkins. Munoz, 25, who spent most of the year in the minors, was 0-1 with the Dodgers with a 3.18 earned-run average. Wilkins, 24, was 13-5 with a 2.42 ERA in 25 starts for double-A London (Ontario). He led the Eastern League with three shutouts. Wilkins will be assigned to Albuquerque.

Dodger shortstop Jose Offerman was named triple-A player of the year by Baseball America. The publication also named the Dukes’ Kevin Kennedy as minor league manager of the year. In seven years in the Dodger system, Kennedy has yet to finish lower than second place.