Martinez single in eighth lifts Dodgers past Rockies

Hero: Martinez finished with three RBIs on the day.

Figure this: Dodgers starter Brad Penny, going on three days' rest between starts for the first time in his eight-year career, threw 111 pitches over five innings.

Quotable: "This guy, he's certainly capable of that, and that's why we have so much confidence in him." -- Dodgers manager Grady Little on Martinez

-- ESPN.com news services

Dodgers 4, Rockies 3

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Ramon Martinez gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a little momentum heading into an important East Coast road trip.

Martinez hit a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning and finished with three RBIs, leading the Dodgers to a 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

"Ramon's capable of doing that," manager Grady Little said. "We were just talking today about an extra-inning game last year where we were out of pitching, and he hit the ball out of the park. The game was over. This guy, he's certainly capable of that, and that's why we have so much confidence in him."

The Dodgers pulled within 6½ games of NL West-leading Arizona and are 2½ games out in the wild-card standings. They open a two-city, six-game trip at Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Todd Helton gave the Rockies a 3-2 lead in the eighth with a two-run homer into the right-field pavilion against reliever Scott Proctor (2-0). The homer was Helton's 12th of the season and No. 298 for his career.

But the Rockies bullpen couldn't hold the lead. Jorge Julio (0-4) gave up a one-out walk to Andre Ethier and a single to Russell Martin in the eighth before Jeremy Affeldt walked pinch-hitter Jeff Kent. Martinez then lined a 2-1 pitch to center to drive in Ethier and Martin.

"I was watching J.K.'s at-bat from on deck, and I noticed he wasn't throwing a lot of strikes. So I just wanted to make sure to take a strike and get a good pitch to hit," Martinez said.

Takashi Saito pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out the side for his 33rd save in 36 attempts.

"This was the biggest win of our season so far, to come back like that after falling behind," Little said. "There was a lot of positive things going on out there today."

Dodgers starter Brad Penny, going on three days' rest between starts for the first time in his eight-year career, allowed a run and two hits over five innings, struck out three and walked five. The two-time All-Star, who came in 12-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 18 previous career starts against the Rockies, decided to come back on short rest to face one of his favorite opponents.

"The guy was outstanding. He deserved to get a win, but it didn't happen for him today," Little said. "When he threw good quality strikes, they fought them off with foul balls, and it mounted up on him."

The Rockies made life difficult on Penny, who threw 111 pitches. Cory Sullivan had a 17-pitch at-bat in the third inning, fouling off 12 in a row before flying out to left field. His next time up, Penny got him to fly out to left on the first pitch.

"My stuff was pretty good today and my curveball was better," Penny said. "Usually, that's when they foul stuff off -- when I'm making a good pitch that they can't put in play."

Penny walked the leadoff batter in three of the first four innings, and Colorado pushed across a run in the fourth after loading the bases with none out. Matt Holliday scored on a sacrifice fly by Brad Hawpe, who was robbed of a bloop single on a diving catch by center fielder Juan Pierre.

Troy Tulowitzki followed with an infield hit up the middle, but shortstop Rafael Furcal noticed Helton rounding third and made a snap throw to Shea Hillenbrand before Helton could get back to the bag.

"It was an aggressive mistake," Helton said. "That's a tough read. I can't tell if the ball's going through. I'm thinking of scoring right there and I'm running as hard as I can, but he makes a great play. He saved them some runs in this series, no doubt about it."

Hillenbrand knew he had to be alert because there's no really way of predicting what Furcal's going to do with the ball once he gets it -- a point that was hammered home twice during Saturday night's 14-inning loss. In that one, Furcal threw out Garrett Atkins at third as he tried to advance two bases on Hawpe's bloop single to left field in the 10th. One inning later, Furcal started an inning-ending 6-2-5 double play against Sullivan.

"Furcal's instincts in just the short time I've been here have been unbelievable," Hillenbrand said. "I went over to the bag just in case something was going to happen with Helton. That was a huge play. It helped us stop the big inning and put us in a position to keep them off the board."

Yorvit Torrealba then looked at a third strike, enabling Penny to get out of the inning with a 2-1 lead.

Game notes
Penny lowered his ERA to 2.59, fourth-best in the majors behind Chris Young, Jake Peavy and Dan Haren. ... Hillenbrand, coming off his first four-hit game for the Dodgers, batted in the cleanup spot for the first time since July 2, 2006, with Toronto.