It's easy to second-guess, but maybe the Dodgers should have started Pedro Astacio instead of Ramon Martinez against the Cincinnati Reds in the opening game of the division series Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Astacio, who was banished to the bullpen earlier this season, registered four strikeouts in two innings of scoreless relief.
Martinez, who hadn't lost to the Reds since June 14, 1992, winning five consecutive decisions, was booed off the field after giving up seven runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings as the Reds beat the Dodgers, 7-2, before a paid crowd of 44,199. Every Red starter except pitcher Pete Schourek got a hit off Martinez, who yielded four doubles and a home run.
"I'd had success against them in the past, but anything can happen," Martinez said. "I wasn't nervous, I was relaxed. Maybe I felt a little pressure because it's a short series."
Manager Davey Johnson said the Reds wanted to get to Martinez at the start of the game.
"It's always important to jump on them early," Johnson said. "Martinez has pitched well against us in the past."
Working on seven days' rest, Martinez, who had been scheduled to start Sunday's regular-season finale against the San Diego Padres but was scratched after the Dodgers clinched the NL West the night before, was in trouble from the start, giving up four runs on four hits.
"He had a tough first inning," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said of Martinez. "It could have turned out a lot different. He had two strikes and two outs and he turned it into a four-run inning. You can't spot the Cincinnati Reds four runs. When you're playing catch-up the whole night it's very difficult."
Catcher Mike Piazza, who hit a sixth-inning homer, said the extra rest may have hindered Martinez.
"You have seven days off and sometimes it's a detriment because you're so used to [pitching] every fourth or fifth day and consequently some of your pitches are up in the strike zone," Piazza said. "That's basically where Ramon got into trouble."
Martinez didn't resemble the pitcher who hurled the only no-hitter in the majors this season.
After striking out leadoff hitter Thomas Howard to open the game, Martinez gave up back-to-back broken-bat singles to Barry Larkin and Ron Gant before giving up a two-out, two-run double to Hal Morris, who went three for four with two runs batted in.
Morris said he went after a bad pitch.
"It was out of the strike zone, but I just wanted to put the ball in play because I didn't want to strike out," Morris said.
"I've done OK against Martinez, but I hadn't had great success against him," said Morris, who came into the game hitting .341 against Martinez. "I'm a contact hitter, and once in a while I find some holes and tonight was one of those nights.
"I thought he was throwing the ball well and he had good movement on his fastball. I don't know what to attribute it to. I guess it was just one of those nights where we were lucky."
Catcher Benito Santiago, who drove in three runs, followed with a two-run homer, belting a two-and-one slider into the left-field bleachers.
"I made a couple mistakes in the first inning and it cost me four runs," said Martinez, who had given up only four earned runs in his last two starts. "The only mistakes I made were in the first inning when I threw that pitch to Benito Santiago. That was the game right there."