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Johnson Helps Giants To Third Straight

After some early season struggles and a stay on the disabled list, Brian Johnson has come back strong and no one has felt it more than the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Johnson homered twice and Kirk Rueter pitched seven strong innings as the San Francisco Giants won their third straight by beating the Diamondbacks 7-4 Sunday.

Johnson, disabled earlier this month with a hairline fracture in his right hand, has five homers in his last five games. Four of his six homers have come against the Diamondbacks, and he now has hit three off losing pitcher Jeff Suppan (1-6).

"I don't want to make too big a deal about it because the game of baseball is very humbling and I can be right back in the mess I was in before," said Johnson, who was batting just .059 in the 11 games before being disabled.

"I've just tried to work hard to be the type of player that I feel I am. I'm not a home run hitter. I'll just hit some occasionally."

He had no explanation for his homer binge against Arizona in general and Suppan in particular.

"I try not to think too much about who's out there," he said. "I just want to be aggressive and keep things real simple. That's all I try to do."

Suppan said Johnson made him pay for a couple of mistakes.

"He hit a slider and a chanegup," Suppan said. "I thought I made the right pitch in the right situation but the location was poor. They both were up a little bit."

Rueter (7-3) allowed one run on six hits and struck out five in moving into a tie for the NL lead in wins. He has won four of his last five starts, including the last three straight, posting a 2.70 ERA in that span.

"We've been playing pretty good baseball all year," said Rueter after the Giants closed out May with their 19th victory, one shy of San Francisco's team record for the month. "Our pitching has been there and our defense has been there. It's a good feeling to have."

Suppan went five innings and allowed five runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out two.

Since an 8-7 victory over San Francisco in the series-opener Thursday night, Arizona has been limited to six runs. The Diamondbacks dropped 3-1 and 4-1 decisions to the Giants on Friday and Saturday.

Arizona's top offensive threats, Matt Williams and Travis Lee, were a collective 0-for-8 on Sunday, and Williams has gone 0-for-12 in the last three games after collecting nine hits in his first 17 at bats (.529) against his former teammates.

"We had a lot of opportunities," Arizona manager Buck Showalter said. "Suppan pitched better than the numbers would indicate but we got a little careless on defense and we didn't take advantage of opportunities."

The Diamondbacks led 1-0 in the second inning afte Jay Bell walked and Damian Miller doubled to drive in his first run of the season.

Johnson tied it when he led off the third inning with a homer, driving Suppan's 0-2 offering over the left field wall.

He connected for his sixth of the season leading off the fifth to put San Francisco up 2-1.

Suppan didn't retire a batter in the sixth, giving up three straight hits, including an RBI double to J.T Snow. Scott Brow relieved and Rich Aurilia blooped a single into center to drive in two more runs.

San Francisco added two runs in the eighth when reliever Amaury Telemaco bobbled Darryl Hamilton's grounder to second baseman Any Fox, who also mishandled the play. Both fielders were given an error on the play.

Arizona scored three in the ninth off reliever Julian Tavarez on an RBI single by Brent Brede and a two-run double by Devon White.

Notes: Arizona placed catcher Jorge Fabergas on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle and recalled outfielder Karim Garcia from Triple-A Tucson. ... Johnson also hit two home runs last July 30 against the New York Mets. ... Lee has gone 1-for-28 (.036) against the Giants this season while batting .291 against the rest of the league. ... The Giants moved a season-high nine games over .500 (33-24). ...Snow, bothered by a sore right shoulder, returned to the starting lineup for the first time in seven games. ... The Diamondbacks have lost five of their last six after going 8-3 in their previous 11, which was the Arizona's best stretch in its inaugural campaign.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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