LOS ANGELES -- While his performance at the plate Friday against the Astros might not show it, Dodgers catcher Russell Martin seems to be out of the funk that plagued him throughout June.

After registering just 15 hits while batting .190 in June, Martin has rebounded quite nicely in July.

Martin entered Friday's game batting .333 over 10 games this month, recording five multihit games during that span.

And just as important as those five outings is the fact that he went hitless just twice.

"He's better," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "We were in Milwaukee and he hit some balls on the button and didn't get many hits, but right now, I think mechanically he's about as good as he's been so far this year."

Martin's hot streak began after he didn't start in back-to-back games against the Rockies on June 30 and July 1. Torre said at the time that he needed a couple of days off from a mental standpoint. Well, the rest seemed to flip a switch.

In the next two games, Martin went 2-for-4 against the San Diego Padres, jump-starting his improved play in the batter's box.

Is it coincidence that Martin began to hit the ball better once Manny Ramirez returned to the club from his 50-game suspension?

Torre seems to think so.

"I don't think Manny's going to impact him," he said.

Pitching matchup
LAD: LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 3.16 ERA)
Kershaw went six strong innings in his last start. He held the Mets scoreless, allowing three hits and striking out seven in an 8-0 win for the Dodgers. The 21-year-old lefty was saddled with his first loss of the season in his last outing against the Astros on April 21, when he gave up six runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.

HOU: LHP Mike Hampton (5-6, 4.52 ERA)
Coming off one of his best starts of the season, on July 6 against the Pirates, Hampton was roughed up on Saturday in his final start before the All-Star break. He gave up nine hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings Saturday against the Nationals. He is 8-7 with a 4.61 ERA in 22 career games (19 starts) against the Dodgers, including 3-6 with a 5.48 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) at Dodger Stadium.

Tidbits
Orlando Hudson went 1-for-2 with a triple Friday and now has six hits in his past 10 at-bats. ... The nine hits given up by starter Chad Billingsley on Friday tied a season high. ... The Dodgers remain 6 1/2 games in front of San Francisco for first place in the National League West.

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Up next
• Sunday: Dodgers (Hiroki Kuroda, 3-5, 4.67) vs. Astros (Russ Ortiz, 3-4, 4.44), 1:10 p.m. PT
• Monday: Dodgers (TBD) vs. Reds (Micah Owings, 6-9, 4.94), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Tuesday: Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 4-4, 3.51) vs. Reds (Homer Bailey, 1-1, 6.43), 7:10 p.m. PT