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Big Unit Fastest To 300Ks

Even among strikeout pitchers, Randy Johnson is the fastest ever.

Johnson reached 300 strikeouts in record time, notching nine in seven innings Thursday to help the streaking Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Florida Marlins 12-2.

Johnson (14-8) achieved the milestone in his 29th start. The previous best was Pedro Martinez, who reached 300 in 31 starts in 1997.

"It's a special achievement," Johnson said. "My primary goal is to put us in a position to win, but anything that comes with that is great."

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  • Damian Miller hit a grand slam to cap Arizona's team-record eight-run ninth. Matt Williams drove in four runs with two singles, a double and a sacrifice fly. Tony Womack had two hits and a walk, two stolen bases and three runs scored.

    The NL West-leading Diamondbacks extended their winning streak to six games and completed a three-game sweep of Florida, which has lost six in a row.

    Johnson reached 300 strikeouts with his eighth of the game against Kevin Millar to end the fifth inning.

    "If I had to face Randy Johnson every night, I probably wouldn't be here," said Millar, who struck out in all three of his at-bats. "You can have your A-game, and he can make it a D-game real quick. You feel real good at the plate, and you look up and you've struck out three times."

    Johnson, who also achieved the strikeout milestone in 1993 and 1998, joins Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers to reach the 00 mark three times. Ryan had a record six 300 seasons.

    "I don't know if everybody grasps the type of achievement that is," Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter said. "We're all lucky to be here to see it. Randy is having as good a year as he's ever had, and he's had a lot of good ones."

    On a sunny, 88-degree afternoon, Johnson left the game with a 4-1 lead and 301 strikeouts after throwing 103 pitches. He allowed six hits.

    "He was a little lightheaded early, but I think everybody was at some time today," Showalter said. "His stamina impresses me as much as anything. On a day like today, a lot of guys would have trouble staying out there for five innings."

    Johnson, who has lost several low-scoring games, said this has been his best year. The 35-year-old left-hander likely has seven starts remaining, and he needs 83 strikeouts to break Ryan's one-season record of 383 set in 1973.

    "If something like that happens, it's similar to today -- as long as we win the game, it's great," he said.

    With his fastball reaching 99 mph, Johnson struck out six of the first nine Marlins, but Florida bunched three consecutive hits to score in the third. After Luis Castillo singled to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, Dave Berg singled and Bruce Aven doubled off the wall.

    "I think people thought Randy Johnson was going to come out and strike out 27 and throw a no-hitter," Marlins manager John Boles said. "But our guys were out there fighting with him. They hung in there. "

    "But he is pretty good."

    Randy Johnson achieves the 300-strikeout plateau for the third time in his career.
    Randy Johnson achieves the 300-strikeout plateau for the third time in his career.(AP)

    Johnson was aware he was on the verge of the milestone when he went eight batters without a strikeout before notching No. 300.

    "The first three or four innings I was cruising, and I didn't realize how hard it was going to be to get that last strikeout," he said.

    Brian Meadows (10-13) allowed seven hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings against the Diamondbacks, who improved to 27-7 since July 20, best in the major leagues. Arizona is 6-0 this year against Florida.

    Womack led off the game with a walk, stole his 56th base and scored on Williams' two-out single.

    In the third inning, Womack doubled, Jay Bell walked and Luis Gonzalez singled home a run. Williams followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0.

    Womack singled in the fifth and scored on Williams' two-out double.

    In thninth, pinch hitter Robert Ryan had an RBI single, Gonzalez was hit by a pitch to force in a run, Williams singled home a run and Erubiel Durazo hit a sacrifice fly. After a walk reloaded the bases with two out, Miller hit his seventh homer off Brent Billingsley.

    Following a 6-1 trip, Arizona returns home for a three-game series against the New York Mets beginning Friday.

    "We're dictating our own destiny," Johnson said, ``but it's a chance to play a playoff-caliber club that's playing well."


    • The start was Johnson's 13th in a row allowing less than three earned runs. His ERA during that stretch is 1.54.
    • Marlins outfielder Cliff Floyd , sidelined much of the season with knee and Achilles' tendon injuries, plans to join the team on its trip to Houston and St. Louis beginning Friday. He said he might play in St. Louis.
    • Womack scored in the first inning in all three games of the series.
    • The Marlins lead the league with 37 triples.

      ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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