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Dodgers get win thanks to trio

Times Staff Writer

The pregame buzz involved rookies, the shuttling from triple A to the big leagues of infielder Tony Abreu, the return to the minors of pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo and the ramifications as the Dodgers pursue a trade for a power hitter.

Postgame comments, however, centered around three second-year Dodgers who play prominent roles barely a year after riding that same shuttle from triple A early last season.

Catcher Russell Martin and relievers Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito might be in their first full years, but they are as dependable as any veteran with double-digit service time. They proved so again in a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium that ended a four-game losing streak and kept the Dodgers in first place in the National League West.

Martin adhered to the game plan against right-hander Ben Sheets by hitting the first fastball he saw for a two-run home run in the fourth inning to put the Dodgers ahead, 3-1. He also scored the first run on a hit by Luis Gonzalez after walking and stealing his eighth base.

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Broxton retired the first three hitters in the Brewers’ order in the eighth inning, striking out two and lowering his earned-run average to 1.08. Opponents are batting .182 against him.

Saito notched his 14th save and has 24 in a row over two seasons by pitching a clean ninth. Gabe Gross singled with two out, but Saito blew a fastball past pinch-hitter Geoff Jenkins to end the game.

No wonder the Dodgers are 21-0 when they lead after seven innings, which is where Randy Wolf (6-3) left them. The left-hander gave up only three hits en route to his third victory in a row.

“It’s a pretty good blueprint,” Wolf said. “Broxton and Saito are as reliable as they come. Broxton is overpowering and Saito has 14 pitches he can throw 15 different ways.

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“And I never get tired of talking about Russell Martin. He’s a perfectionist, always looking for ways to get better.”

The second-year standouts aren’t a bad blueprint for rookies such as Abreu and Andy LaRoche, either. Martin, Broxton and Saito serve as vivid examples of how far players can come in a short time.

Abreu was clearly nervous in his debut, making a throwing error on the first play of the game. Wolf pitched out of a first-and-third jam by striking out Johnny Estrada, though, and Abreu rebounded two innings later by starting a double play with one out and runners on first and third.

The Dodgers promoted Abreu despite having LaRoche and the suddenly hot-hitting Wilson Betemit at third. Kuo will join the starting rotation at Las Vegas, potentially giving the Dodgers a surplus of starters if Jason Schmidt recovers soon from his shoulder injury.

Would packaging a young third baseman with a starter be enough to land a power hitter? General Manager Ned Colletti won’t speculate, and it might take the addition of a top prospect from the well-stocked Dodgers farm system to get a deal done.

Until then, victories likely will come the way this one did, from strong pitching, a few good swings and a sound game plan.

Sheets beat the Dodgers on a two-hitter opening day at Milwaukee by getting ahead of hitters with his fastball. This time they were ready. Jeff Kent hit a first-pitch fastball for a double that preceded Martin’s third home run.

Sheets started Martin with a breaking ball for strike one. The next pitch was deposited in the left-field seats.

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“He likes to pound the strike zone with fastballs, so I was ready,” Martin said. “He put a fastball in the zone and I took care of it.”

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steve.henson@latimes.com


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