Did early hook for Pedro spur Dodgers?

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Six years later, did Charlie Manuel yank Martinez a bit too soon in a crucial playoff moment?

Another manager's late-inning postseason decision on Martinez is sure to be a hot topic of discussion after the Los Angeles Dodgers' 2-1 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the NL championship series on Friday.

"I didn't ask for anything like (staying in)," Martinez said. "If they asked me to go back, yes, I would have, but they didn't, and that's it."

In his first postseason start since 2004, Martinez stifled the Dodgers for seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits and overwhelming Los Angeles' lineup with control and guile.

Martinez threw just 87 pitches in those seven innings and didn't walk a batter, but Manuel had seen enough, worrying about Pedro's pitch count and the stifling heat at Dodger Stadium. Manuel elected to pinch hit for him with Carlos Ruiz on first base and one out in a 1-0 game.

"He was gone," Manuel said of Martinez. "I mean, I think he was spent. We got seven innings out of him. When the game started, I was looking anywhere from 70 to 85 pitches, maybe 90 at the most. ... He did a tremendous job, and he took it actually farther than I anticipated when the game started. To me, Pedro was done."

The move backfired spectacularly, and the defending champions wasted a golden opportunity to take a two-game lead in the series. Martinez felt strong and fresh, but the veteran knew better than to argue with Manuel when he was pulled for pinch-hitter Ben Francisco, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Pedro looked like the Martinez of 2003, who ran out of gas before he could pitch the Boston Red Sox into the World Series in Game 7 of the AL championship series.

In a move that broke Red Sox fans' hearts and contributed to Little's firing soon after, the manager kept a tiring Martinez on the mound with Boston holding a two-run lead and sitting just five outs away from the World Series. The Yankees rallied to tie it against Martinez, and Aaron Boone's 11th-inning homer off Tim Wakefield sent them into the Series instead.

"As much as you hated anybody with a Red Sox uniform, you always admired how well (Martinez) did his job," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, the beneficiary of Little's 2003 decision with the Yankees. "With his ability to throw a handful of different pitches with varying speed, that's what the game is all about. Even though he doesn't have the same velocity he once did, he did a masterful job."

Manuel's decision wasn't made with the stakes quite as high - and after the Philadelphia bullpen's solid effort in Thursday's Game 1, Manuel undoubtedly believed he could count on his relievers again.

With Martinez off the mound, the Dodgers jumped on five Philadelphia relievers for a two-run rally capped by Andre Ethier's bases-loaded walk from J.A. Happ, and evened the NLCS at one game apiece.

Martinez gave up just two singles, hit one batter and didn't allow a runner to reach third base. Though he hadn't started a game since Sept. 30 and hadn't pitched in the playoffs in five years, Martinez seemed capable of carrying the Phillies even farther.

"Pedro went 17 days without pitching," Manuel said. "It was a hot day, and I wasn't even thinking about that. He took us to a point in the game where he pitched a real great game, and it was time for him to go."

But Chan Ho Park's second appearance against his former team didn't go nearly as well as his first. Park pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Game 1, retiring Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake in order after Ethier's leadoff double.

Park gave up hard-luck singles to Blake and Ronnie Belliard, whose rolling grounder he couldn't corral on his injured hamstring. After Los Angeles scored the tying run on second baseman Chase Utley's throwing error on a double-play relay, Jim Thome singled to chase Park.

"We all have confidence in our bullpen relievers, me especially," Martinez said. "It just didn't work out one time. We're not discouraged. It's not Game 7."

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