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Unit Rescues Diamondbacks


Randy Johnson eluded a flying bat, and then avoided an even greater danger watching from the bench as the Arizona bullpen finally managed to protect a lead.

Johnson struck out 13 while allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings, and the Diamondbacks defeated the Oakland Athletics 4-2 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Johnson (14-2) heads into the All-Star break leading the NL in wins, ERA (1.80) and strikeouts (198). It is the best pre-break record of his career, topping the 12-2 mark and 2.20 ERA in 1997.

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Johnson, 21-3 in his last 31 regular-season starts, recorded his 13th game with 10 or more strikeouts this year. He has 138 such games overall, trailing only Nolan Ryan's 215.

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Game Summary

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  • Johnson gave up a two-run single by Matt Stairs in the fourth and got out of the fifth when Jason Giambi's liner was snared by second baseman Jay Bell with two outs and a runner on second.

    In the second inning, Ben Grieve's bat shattered as he grounded to second. The barrel of the bat flew close to Johnson, causing the lanky pitcher to flinch.

    By pitching seven innings, Johnson took some of the pressure off the beleaguered Arizona bullpen. The Diamondbacks blew saves the previous two nights, losing the first two games of the series in extra innings. Arizona blew a 7-2 eighth-inning lead on Saturday.

    Mike Morgan pitched the eighth and walked Miguel Tejada to start the ninh. Matt Mantei then struck out three straight for his fourth save in six chances.

    Steve Finley, named an injury replacement to the NL All-Star team earlier in the day, led off the seventh with his 25th homer. The Diamondbacks scored two in the second on an RBI double by Travis Lee and a run-scoring single by Tony Womack.

    Gil Heredia (9-7), who allowed four runs on 11 hits in six innings, lost his third straight decision for Oakland - which heads into the All-Star break having lost eight of 11.

    Notes

  • Johnson is 94-26 with 18 no-decisions in games when he has struck out at least 10.
  • The Diamondbacks went 4-2 on a trip that began with a three-game sweep at Houston.
  • Arizona's Damian Miller, who began with an 0-for-18 mark against Oakland, went 2-for-4.
  • One day after drawing the largest baseball crowd (54,268) in Oakland Coliseum history, the A's had a crowd of 25,516 Sunday.
  • Heredia is 2-6 at home this season.
  • Johnson tied his season high for strikeouts. He has had 13 in five games this year.
  • Stairs, who went 1-for-3 against Johnson, is 7-for-13 (.538) career against the left-hander.

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