Marlins 4, Dodgers 0

Josh Johnson has been one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers

through the first half of the season. And in his final start before

his second trip to the All-Star game, the Florida Marlins’ ace made

one last bid to ace out Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez for the starting

nod on the NL team.

Johnson scattered six hits over eight innings and lowered his

major league-leading ERA to 1.70 to help the Marlins beat the Los

Angeles Dodgers 4-0 on Wednesday night. But he will have to wait

until Monday to find out if NL manager Charlie Manuel will give him

the ball on Tuesday night in Anaheim.

“There was no statement about that,” Johnson said. “We needed

a win and we needed to win this series. That was all I was out

there to do. Nothing for the All-Star game. It’s all about the team

right now.”

Johnson (9-3) threw 117 pitches and came within three outs of

his first shutout in 94 big league starts, striking out eight and

walking one. Jose Veras finished up with a perfect ninth.

Johnson, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract extension

in January, has yielded fewer than three earned runs in 15 of his

last 16 starts and has a 34-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last

four outings. Last year at the All-Star break, he was 8-2 with a

2.74 ERA.

“It’s one of those things that I put on myself – to go out

there every time and give my team a chance to win no matter who I’m

pitching against or what team I’m facing,” Johnson said.

“I just had to build off last year. That was the main thing.

Working on the stuff I’ve been working on this year has definitely

taken me up a little bit and kind of pushed me along and taken me

deeper into games. That’s the key for me. Whenever you can give

your bullpen a rest, I feel like I’ve done my job.”

Rookie Mike Stanton completed a successful homecoming with a

three-run homer. The 20-year-old right fielder, who played his high

school ball at Notre Dame High in nearby Sherman Oaks – and came

within one game of getting a chance to play at Dodger Stadium for

the city championship – went 4 for 12 with two homers and six RBIs

in his first series at Chavez Ravine.

“That’s what you dream about: Hitting home runs in your

favorite MLB team’s park. It’s just overwhelming, to be able to hit

two nights in a row here,” Stanton said. “It would have been

great even if I didn’t have good games. I had fun all three nights,

and playing well was just icing on the cake. Just to see all my

friends and family in the stands was enough for me. But I’m happy

things worked out a little better. It was a great time.”

Hiroki Kuroda (7-7) gave up four runs and six hits over seven

innings and struck out four without walking anyone. The Marlins did

all of their scoring in the second, as Cody Ross hit an RBI single

and Stanton drove a 3-1 pitch into the left field pavilion with two

outs for his fourth homer to give Johnson all the run support he

would need.

“It’s not hard to help him out. All he needs usually is one or

two runs,” Stanton said. “I didn’t really care if it went out. I

knew it was enough for a sac fly. Luckily, it hung up a little

longer for it to go out. But I was just trying to put the ball in

play, really.”

Johnson retired his first two batters in each of the first six

innings. The Dodgers put runners at the corners in the fourth on

singles by Andre Ethier and James Loney before Casey Blake struck

out. They got two more on base in the sixth, but Blake fouled out

to third baseman Jorge Cantu – who nearly collided with on-deck

hitter Garret Anderson.

“Johnson had real good stuff. He commands the strike zone and

as you saw, he can throw all three his pitches for strikes when he

wants to,” said Ethier, whose .332 average is just four points

behind league-leader Martin Prado of Atlanta. “That’s the sign of

a good pitcher, and it makes for a long day.”

NOTES: Dodgers C Russell Martin had a very special visitor

before the game. It was 3-year-old Janelle Briseno, who had

undergone surgery for a fractured skull after being struck by a

line drive off Martin’s bat during batting practice on June 7. He

presented her with a youth-sized Dodgers jersey with her name and

age on the back. Janelle, whose favorite Dodger is Manny Ramirez,

watched the game with her parents from the “Mannywood” section in

the left field corner. During her three-day stay in the hospital,

several members of the organization brought her some stuffed

animals and presented game tickets to the medical staff who cared

for her. … Stanton attended numerous games at Dodger Stadium

while growing up. He usually sat in the right field pavilion behind

his favorite player, Raul Mondesi. … Johnson hasn’t allowed a

home run in six career starts against Los Angeles, spanning 34

innings, and is 3-0 with a 3.46 ERA in four starts at Dodger

Stadium.