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Johnson has gem for ages vs. D'backs


Johnson has gem for ages vs. D'backs
SAN FRANCISCO Randy Johnson says he had nothing to prove to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, although the five-time Cy Young Award winner's timing couldn't have much been better.

Intent on redeeming himself after losing the first two starts of his Giants career, Johnson took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his first appearance against one of his former team and moving another step closer to history in San Francisco's 2-0 victory.

"A game like this instills a little bit of confidence,'' said Johnson, who allowed one hit and walked two in seven innings. "A game like this can jump-start me.''

Johnson typically hasn't needed a jolt during his 22-year major league career, which, after Sunday, includes 296 victories. But after two starts in 2009, Johnson (1-2) was winless and saddled with an 11.42 ERA, more than triple his career mark of 3.26 entering the season.

The win clinched a series victory over the Diamondbacks, picked by many to win the National League West. The Giants did it despite scoring just four runs in the three games.

"It would be nice if we could put a few more runs on the board to take some pressure off, but our pitching came through for us,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "It shows you how well we threw the ball.''

Johnson, 45, was trying to keep up with Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Lincecum, two pitchers nearly half his age that produced gems earlier in the series.

"Nobody wants to be the weak link in the rotation," said Johnson, who allowed seven runs and eight hits and failed to get through the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his previous outing.

Sunday, Johnson fueled the theory that despite the Giants' offensive struggles the squad has a chance to compete in the NL West because of its deep rotation.

Johnson, who has pitched two no-hitters, including a perfect game with Arizona in 2004, had his no-hit bid broken up when Augie Ojeda doubled down the left-field line to lead off the seventh.

"Randy proved he can still do it,'' said closer Brian Wilson, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

Before Sunday, Johnson had faced every team in the majors except Arizona, the franchise he helped lead to a World Series title in 2001. The union had an acrimonious breakup over the winter, which led to the Livermore High graduate returning to the Bay Area and added intrigue to the series finale.

Johnson downplayed the matchup, saying, "I just kinda put blinders on when it comes to certain teams. To me, I just wanted to win. Go out, pitch well, contribute and win. That's all.''

The Diamondbacks weren't buying it and now know the helpless feeling every other team in the majors has known over the past two decades.

"Obviously he was fired up,'' Arizona outfielder Eric Byrnes said.

Ojeda said, "We've seen him do that. When he's on, he's on.''

Johnson walked two, but because of a pickoff and a double-play grounder, he had faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings. Johnson struck out seven, four looking.

"Incredible,'' Bochy said. "Here he is at 45 years old and pitches a game like that. I thought he had a great shot at (a no-hitter). It was fun for us to watch, the way he was throwing the ball.''

Johnson was removed somewhat surprisingly after seven innings. He had only thrown 73 pitches and his fastball registered 93 mph on the stadium radar gun in the seventh inning, when he worked out of a one-out, runner-on-third-base jam. But Bochy said he made the move because of the heat (it was in the mid-80s most of the game) and that it was Johnson's longest stint of the season.

Johnson didn't disagree.

"There will be a day when I maybe go eight or nine, but right now it's still early,' Johnson said. "There's no sense in pushing anything.''

Contact Laurence Miedema at lmiedema@mercurynews.com.Giants 2,Diamondbacks 0NEXT GAME: Tuesday, vs. Padres, 7:15 p.m.INSIDE Slight change in the order benefits Pablo Sandoval. Page 4


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 20, 2009

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