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D'Backs Give Unit No Support


When Randy Johnson walks to the mound these days, he's never been more alone. He knows that he won't be guaranteed a win even if he throws a shutout. His Arizona teammates are providing him with no offensive help nothing, zero, a big goose egg.

Against all odds, it happened again Saturday. For the fourth consecutive game, the Diamondbacks didn't get Johnson a run as rookie Tim Hudson and Billy Taylor combined on a three-hitter, leading the Oakland Athletics over the Diamondbacks 2-0 Saturday.

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  • "It's weird," Arizona catcher Damian Miller said. "There's no explanation for it really. He's out their busting his butt, and we end up running into a buzz saw every time."

    Johnson struck out 11 and allowed three hits in seven innings but left the game trailing 2-0. Arizona hasn't scored a run in the last 34 innings Johnson has been on the mound.

    Johnson said he's never experienced anything like it, but he resisted any criticism of his teammates.

    "I don't know what you want me to say. I'm pitching as good as I can," Johnson said. "I know the guys are trying as hard as they can. We're just going against some pitchers who are throwing some goose eggs up there and pitching well."

    Tim Raines led off the game with a home run for the only earned run for the Athletics. They added an unearned run after Johnson's throwing error in the fourth.

    Johnson (9-7), a leading candidate to start in Tuesday's All-Star Game, is 0-4 in his last four starts despite allowing a total of five earned runs and striking out 54.

    In those games, Diamondbacks batters have in order no hits, one hit, two hits and three hits. The scores were 1-0, 2-0, 1-0 and 2-0.

    "I'm sure he's frustrated. If I were him, I would be, too," Miller said. "It's not like we're not trying to get hits. We may be pressing a little bit. Who knows what's going on? We feel bad for him. He should be 4-0 in his last four starts the way he's pitched."

    Hudson (5-1), who turns 24 next Wednesday, started the season at Double-A Midland of the Texas Lague. In 8 1-3 innings, he gave up three hits, struck out a career-high nine and walked two in his seventh big league start.

    "He was the one guy on our staff we definitely felt could go out there and match zeroes with Randy, and he did even better," Oakland manager Art Howe said. "He'll remember this one for a long time."

    Taylor closed for his 22nd save.

    "Anytime you pitch against Randy Johnson the game's going to be hyped up because he's so good and always has been so good," Hudson said. "I was just trying to go out there and keep us in the game."

    Raines hit Johnson's 1-0 pitch just over the left field fence for his fifth homer of the season.

    Oakland made it 2-0 in the fourth. Miguel Tejada drew one of Johnson's four walks to lead off the inning, then Johnson threw the ball into the A's dugout on a pickoff attempt, allowing the runner to go to third. Tejada scored on Olmedo Saenz's sacrifice fly.

    Johnson, who has lost his last five starts, had double-digit strikeouts for the 13th time this season and 115th time of his career.

    "It's frustrating for the 24 guys on this team, too, because we're trying to win baseball games," Arizona manager Buck Showalter said. "Randy pitched real well. He's the only reason we were still in the ball game."

    Notes:

  • Counting his time in Double-A and Triple-A, Hudson is 12-1 this year.
  • Closer Matt Mantei, acquired by Arizona in a trade with Florida on Friday afternoon, arrived just as the game started and joined the bullpen in the top of the second inning. He did not pitch.
  • If Johnson starts in the All-Star game, he still could make his regularly scheduled start at Texas next Thursday and keep his much-anticipated Seattle appearance July 20.
  • Oakland is 7-4 against the NL this season.
  • Raines' homer was the 169th of his career.
  • A's pitchers haven't given up a home run in 101 1-3 innings.
  • Johnson passed Tim Keefe into 19th place on the career strikeout list with 2,540.
  • Johnson lowered his NL-best ERA to 2.95 and leads the majors in strikeouts with 213.

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

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