LOS ANGELES, JUNE 5 -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have hoped Ramon Martinez might become a great pitcher. For at least one game, he did.
The 22-year-old Dominican righthander tied Sandy Koufax's club record Monday night by striking out 18 to lead the Dodgers to a 6-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
The 6-foot-4, 173-pound Martinez struck out 14 of the first 19 batters and finished with his first career three-hitter as he recorded his fourth career shutout and his third in four career starts against the befuddled Braves. Greg Olson was the only starter who escaped without a strikeout.
"Everyone who walked up there made a right turn" back to the dugout, Atlanta Manager Russ Nixon said.
Martinez (6-3) took over the major league strikeout lead from Roger Clemens with 87 and came within two of the Boston right-hander's major league mark for a nine-inning game, set against Seattle on April 29, 1986, at Fenway Park.
"It's a tremendous accomplishment for Ramon and I'm very happy for him," Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia said. "The key was his fastball.
"He had total command of it inside and outside, and that set up his other pitches."
Martinez is one year younger than Koufax was when he struck out 18 the first time in 1959 against San Francisco. He duplicated the feat three years later at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
"My best pitch was my fastball," Martinez said with his elbow in a bucket of ice. "I was consistently throwing on the outside part of the plate. It was the best feeling of my life. I felt great when I was warming up."
Martinez felt so good, in fact, that he drove in a run with a two-out, bases-loaded infield hit.
His strikeout total was the highest in Dodger Stadium history. He fell one shy of the National League mark shared by Tom Seaver (1970), Steve Carlton (1969) and Charles Sweeney (1884).
.....LEADERS SINCE 1900.....
No. .. Year ... Pitcher, Team
20 ... 1986 ... Clemens, Boston
19 ... 1969 ... Carlton, St. Louis
19 ... 1970 ... Seaver, N.Y. Mets
18 ... 1990 ... Martinez, Los Angeles
18 ... 1978 ... Guidry, N.Y. Yankees
18 ... 1962 ... Koufax, Los Angeles
18 ... 1959 ... Koufax, Los Angeles