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Big Unit Goes 9 To Beat L.A.

After throwing 281 pitches in his previous two starts, the Arizona Diamondbacks gave Randy Johnson an extra day off. It appeared to pay off.

Johnson struck out 12 in his major league-leading ninth complete game and Luis Gonzalez hit a two-run homer to lift Arizona to its fifth straight victory Saturday, 4-2 over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Coming off my last couple starts, I wasn't really sure how effective I was going to be today," said Johnson, who allowed six hits. "I wasn't looking to strike anybody out. I was trying to get outs early in the count and get through the game."

"I was getting tired at the end of the game."

However, Johnson was at his best at the end. He struck out Eric Karros, who had earlier hit a two-run home run off him, Devon White and Adrian Beltre to complete his 16th double-digit strikeout game of the year and the 118th of his career.

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Game Summary

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  • "We had already made the decision to put Randy back out there after the eighth inning," Arizona manager Buck Showalter said. "He was our best option to win. He's a guy who wants to finish what he starts. He knows how to get it done."

    The Diamondbacks won for the 10th time in their last 11 games and sent the Dodgers to their 10th loss in their last 12 games.

    The Diamondbacks' offense finally got it done for Johnson, who had lost six of his previous seven starts. In those six losses, Arizona had scored a total of five runs.

    Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Tony Womack scored on Luis Gonzalez's double-play grounder.

    In the third, Womack singled with one out and Gonzalez hit his 16th home run one out later off Ismael Valdes (8-9), who pitched with a slight back strain.

    "It was nice to get enough runs for Randy and even better to get them early," Gonzalez said. "The other guy pitched a pretty good game. Randy's been on that side of it for the last five starts or so. Valdes knows now what Randy's been going through."

    Los Angeles pulled to within a run in the fourth inning when Mark Grudzielanek beat out an infield single for the first hit off Johnson. Two outs later, Karros hit his 25th home run.

    Arizona got an insurance run in the ninth on Womack's sacrifice fly.

    Valdes, mentioned in trade rumors over the last two weeks, dropped to 3-1 in seven career starts against the Diamondbacks.

    "Ismael pitched a good game, but Randy Johnson's a pretty tough guy to face," Dodger manager Davey Johnson said. "He knows what he's doing out there, especially in the late innings."

    Valdes lost for the ninth time in his last 12 starts, although he has a 3.05 ERA over that span. Valdes allowed three runs and seven hits while striking out 10 in eight innings.

    "It's very frustrating," Valdes said. "I've been trying to throw the ball well and keep my team in the game, but my team hasn't been doing very well. I tried to throw strikes and get ahead in the count. That's all I can do, concentrate on doing my job."

    "I can't worry about runs I get and I can't worry about the rumors. You leave those in your locker. A lot of rumors are in the air. You can only do what you can do."


  • Dodgers GM executive vice president Kevin Malone planned to make no trades before Saturday's trade deadline. Malone, who's been stymied in efforts to trade struggling veterans like LHP Carlos Perez and 2B Eric Young, said he will evaluate his players the rest of the season and make changes in the winter. "The last two months are going to be very important," he said.
  • Karros finished the month of July with a career-high 12 home runs, including two off Johnson in less than a week.
  • Johnson missed a rematch with Los Angeles right-hander Kevin Brown, who allowed two runs in 7 2-3 inings in Friday's 6-5 loss. Karros hit the tiebreaking homer and Brown beat Johnson 2-1 last Sunday in Phoenix. "I didn't mind missing Kevin," Johnson said.
  • Philadelphia's Curt Schilling is second with eight complete games.

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