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Johnson Rocked In Seattle Skid

The trade rumors are gone, but the facts on Randy Johnson's troubles remain.

"I don't know what to say. I really don't," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said after Johnson gave up a season-high seven earned runs in a 7-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

"I was hoping for a better effort," Piniella said. "We won last night, and we had our No. 1 guy going. You hope we could put something together, but it didn't happen."

Mike Macfarlane hit a three-run homer off and the A's overcame two home runs by Jay Buhner.

Johnson (5-6) has lost three straight starts for the first time since dropping eight consecutive starts in 1992.

The left-hander, 20-4 last season, has not had a losing record this late in a season since finishing 1992 at 12-14. Johnson's 5.61 ERA is the highest it has ever been at this point in a year.

"I've seen him bounce back too many times," said former Seattle teammate Mike Blowers, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI double against Johnson. "I've got to believe he's going to do it again. It's Randy Johnson out there. You just hope he doesn't find it against you."

Even winning pitcher Blake Stein (3-3), at 6-foot-7 still three inches shorter than Johnson, hailed his opponent.

"As I was coming up through high school and college, you watched this guy on the mound and how he just intimidated hitters," Stein said. "You can't help but respect the guy."

The losing streak began when rumors of Johnson's trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers ended. Before these losses, Johnson had struck out 25 batters in consecutive victories.

The radar gun averaged 89 mph and topped out at 95 Saturday. Still potent, but nowhere near the 100 mph fastballs he was firing up to strike out 19 A's batters in one game last season.

"With a lot of trade rumors going around, and your front office unhappy with you," Oakland's Matt Stairs said, "it has to start playing head games with you."

Whatever thoughts Johnson has remain in his head. He stopped talking to reporters after the Dodger trade fizzled.

Buhner, who drove in all three Seattle runs with his two homers, said to give Johnson a break.

"We've come to expect him to be invincible all the time," Buhner said. "Sometimes we take him for granted. It's unfair to him."

Oakland manager Art Howe said the A's didn't hit Johnson particularly hard, just at the right time.

"We just put them together," Howe said. "The walks was the big thing. At least four walks. That's not Randy."

Johnson struck out seven and allowed eight hits. He walked six, three to Henderson, and four of those batters scored.

Playing for the second time since missing 59 games following arthroscopic knee srgery, Buhner put the Mariners ahead 2-0 with a homer in the fourth. He hit his fourth home run of the season in the seventh.

The Mariners managed only three hits off Blake Stein and relievers Buddy Groom and Mike Fetters.

Stein gave up three hits in 6 2-3 innings. Fetters got four outs for his third save.

Macfarlane's homer highlighted a four-run second inning. He connected after Matt Stairs singled and Miguel Tejada walked. Scott Spiezio's RBI single later in the inning made it 4-2.

Rickey Henderson walked to lead off the fifth and scored on a double by Mike Blowers. Stairs' RBI double gave the A's a 6-2 lead.

Blower's RBI single in the seventh put Oakland ahead 7-3. He is 6-for-12 lifetime against Johnson. .

Notes: Buhner had his 18th career multi-homer game. ... Seattle outfielder Rob Ducey is day-to-day with a right hip flexor muscle strain. ... The A's are 32-14 against the Mariners in Oakland since 1991. ... Johnson had not lost in Oakland since a Sept. 10, 1992, decision to Ron Darling.

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

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