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Not so perfect; but Unit wins again

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Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Randy Johnson followed up his perfect game by throwing seven innings of two-run ball, as Arizona defeated Florida, 4-3, in the third contest of a four-game set at Pro Player Stadium. Johnson (5-4), who threw just the 17th perfect game in baseball history and 15th in modern day annals last Tuesday against Atlanta, permitted just four hits while striking out five and walking one.

"I was just going out there and keeping us in the ballgame," Johnson said. "I didn't care whether I threw a perfect game in Atlanta, so I'm sure I didn't care if I threw a perfect game out there today."

The 40-year-old Johnson became the oldest pitcher to ever throw a perfect game and the first since New York Yankees hurler David Cone accomplished the feat on July 18, 1999.

The five-time Cy Young Award winner improved to 7-1 in 11 career starts against Florida. He has also struck out 100 hitters in just 78 innings versus the Marlins .

"It's pretty tough to compare to his last outing, but he (Johnson) was good enough to win today," Arizona manager Bob Brenly. That's all we needed."

Shea Hillenbrand had three hits and an RBI for the Diamondbacks , who halted a three-game overall losing streak and snapped a six-game skid to Florida. Alex Cintron , Luis Gonzalez and Steve Finley also drove in a run in the win.

Earlier in the day, Arizona placed first baseman Richie Sexson back on the 15- day disabled list with a bruised humerus and slight tear of the labrum in his left shoulder. Sexson, who had just been activated from the DL on May 21, aggravated the same injury while checking his swing in Saturday's game.

Dontrelle Willis (4-3) took the loss after allowing four runs and nine hits over five innings. Willis struck out five and walked two.

Jeff Conine and Miguel Cabrera each hit solo homers for the Marlins , who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

"It's all for naught," Conine said. "We battled one of the best pitchers in the history of the game. We had a couple of chances, but it didn't work out."

Trailing by a 1-0 score, Arizona plated four runs in the fifth to claim a three-run lead. After Willis retired the first two hitters, Matt Kata doubled to center and Cintron singled him home to tie the score. Gonzalez and Hillenbrand then delivered consecutive RBI doubles to put the Diamondbacks ahead 3-1, and Finley capped the four-run inning with a base hit up the middle to score Hillenbrand.

"For four innings, he (Willis) was pretty good," said Florida manager Jack McKeon. "Then he went to pieces."

Conine brought Florida within 4-2 with his solo homer with two outs in the sixth. It was his third home run of the season.

Jose Valverde came on for the ninth and immediately surrendered a leadoff homer to Cabrera -- his 12th of the campaign -- that trimmed the deficit to 4-3. Conine then drew a walk and was sacrificed to second by Mike Redmond to put the tying run in scoring position with just one out. Valverde, though, was able to strike out Abraham Nunez and got pinch-hitter Lenny Harris to fly out to right to end the game.

Despite the shaky ninth, Valverde picked up his third save of the season.

Johnson's string of perfect innings came to a close in the third as Nunez led off with a double, ending a span of 39 consecutive batters retired by the imposing lefthander. After Alex Gonzalez struck out, Nunez moved to third on Willis' ground ball and then scored the game's first run after Luis Castillo singled up the middle.

The third-inning run snapped Johnson's string of 17 2/3 scoreless frames.

The major league record for consecutive batters retired is 41, set by San Francisco's Jim Barr from August 23-29, 1972. Nunez's single was the first baserunner allowed by Johnson since Mets infielder Joe McEwing led off the sixth inning of a May 12 game with a base hit.

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