Major League Baseball
Johnson dominates as Giants edge Rockies
Major League Baseball

Johnson dominates as Giants edge Rockies

Published May. 2, 2009 7:49 a.m. ET

Even after 297 victories and 4,819 strikeouts, Randy Johnson still sees pitches he can strengthen and points he still needs to prove.

After failing to find the strike zone much in his previous start, the Big Unit could hardly miss against Colorado.

Johnson yielded four hits and struck out nine over seven scoreless innings in his second win with San Francisco, leading the surging Giants past the Rockies 3-2 Friday night.

Johnson (2-2) struck out the first five Rockies he faced and retired the first 11 overall in his second straight dominant home start for the Giants, who moved above .500 for the first time since April 9 with their ninth win in 12 games despite getting just five hits. Johnson also rebounded splendidly from his seven-walk performance in Arizona last weekend - a lapse in control of a magnitude he couldn't recall in the past eight years.

Despite an unintimidating 4.50 ERA, which dropped from 6.16 before the game, he's been mostly solid in his five starts for San Francisco, highlighted by back-to-back home starts with seven shutout innings.

Yet the 45-year-old left-hander never wants to stop improving.

"It's really about how you respond from bad games that you pitch," Johnson said. "If you make a bad pitch against this particular team, they have a great deal of power."

Johnson never gave the Rockies that chance - but San Francisco's bullpen nearly blew it for him. Chris Iannetta homered to lead off the eighth, and Todd Helton added a run-scoring infield single before Giants closer Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Spilborghs with the bases loaded.

Wilson then pitched the ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.

As Johnson gets closer to his historic win, he claims he hasn't put much thought into it, which should allow his teammates to keep the same cool.

"I'm aware of it before I take the mound, but I just flush all that stuff," said Wilson, who had a full count on Spilborghs before the strikeout. "You can't think about it and still do your job, I don't think."

Johnson's nine strikeouts were his biggest total with the Giants. He moved within three victories of becoming the 24th pitcher in major league history with 300 wins with his 19th career victory over Colorado, his most against any opponent.

"I've seen a lot of him, and he still mixes his stuff up, and he has a very effective slider," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "As a hitting coach, I used to ask guys to lay off his slider, take a chance and be patient, but it's easier said than done. That's a command pitch for him."

Travis Ishikawa hit an early RBI double for the Giants, while Bengie Molina and Randy Winn added sacrifice flies to give Johnson more than one run of support for the first time all season.

Ubaldo Jimenez (1-4) allowed three runs and five hits over seven mostly effective innings for the Rockies, who opened a three-game series in San Francisco with their ninth loss in 13 games.

"I wasn't as sharp in the first couple of innings as I was later," Jimenez said. "You never want to pitch in weather like this, but that's what you have to do. A perfect day would be 85 degrees and the wind coming in. You just pitch no matter what the weather."

Heavy rain hit the Giants' waterfront ballpark in the hours leading up to game time, but it turned into a thick mist early enough to get the game underway in front of a small crowd.

The mist didn't bother Johnson a bit: The Bay Area native briskly struck out the Rockies' first five hitters and got two strikes on No. 6 hitter Troy Tulowitzki before the shortstop hit a harmless fly to right.

With two outs in the fourth, Helton worked a 3-0 count before grounding it up the middle, where second baseman Emmanuel Burriss stopped it but had no chance. Johnson then retired five of Colorado's next six hitters.

The Rockies didn't get a runner to third base until Dexter Fowler reached it in the sixth, but Johnson got a double-play grounder from Helton. He retired the side in order in the seventh, leaving to a standing ovation.


Huston Street is Colorado's closer again, Hurdle said before the game. Street had just two saves in April while losing the job to RHP Manuel Corpas, who got the loss in two games over the past week. ... LF Matt Murton made his first start and got his first hit for the Rockies, a single in the sixth. Colorado acquired Murton from Oakland on Feb. 4. ... San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan watched the game from a luxury suite.


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