Randy Johnson is one of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in baseball history, but now in his 21st major league season, stringing together back-to-back solid starts is a challenge.
Again seeking his 299th career victory, Johnson looks help the San Francisco Giants sweep their first series of the season in Wednesday night's finale against the Atlanta Braves.Johnson (3-4, 6.26 ERA) earned win No. 298 against Washington on May 11, but has been unable to move closer to becoming the 24th member of the 300-win club.After being tagged for seven runs and a season-high 11 hits in four innings of a 9-6 loss to the New York Mets on May 16, the 45-year-old bounced back Saturday, giving up one run and six hits with seven strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings of a 2-1, 12-inning loss to Seattle.While Johnson was solid against the Mariners, whom he was an ace for from 1989-98, consistency has been an issue. He's posted a 14.18 ERA in losing three of his starts, but is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in his other six."In order to win 300 games -- if that should happen -- you got to win and you have to win consistently," Johnson told the Giants' official Web site.The five-time Cy Young Award winner hopes a start against a team he has dominated lately can get him back in the win column. Johnson is 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA in his last three starts versus the Braves -- including a perfect game thrown on May 18, 2004 while with Arizona.In his last start against Atlanta on May 24, 2008, Johnson gave up one run and five hits with 10 strikeouts in six innings but didn't get a decision in the Diamondbacks' 3-1 loss.San Francisco (22-23) followed up an 8-2 win in the series opener with a 4-0 victory Tuesday.Aaron Rowand hit a two-run double in the second inning and is 12 for 32 (.375) with two home runs, three doubles and five RBIs during a season-high seven-game hitting streak.The Giants have not swept Atlanta since Aug. 19-21, 2003, and are trying to sweep their first series since taking three straight over Arizona from Sept. 8-10.The Braves (23-22) were shut out for the fifth time this season and have managed just 11 hits in the series.Reigning NL batting champion Chipper Jones returned to Atlanta's lineup for his first start since injuring his right big toe Thursday. He finished 1 for 4 with a double and is 13 for 33 (.394) with six home runs and 11 strikeouts lifetime against Johnson.Atlanta's Kenshin Kawakami (3-5, 4.73) is set to make his first career start against the Giants.After being pounded for eight runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-2 loss to Cincinnati on April 26, Kawakami has yielded seven runs in 24 innings over his last four starts. On Saturday, the right-handed Japanese rookie gave up three hits and struck out seven in eight innings of a 1-0 win over Toronto."He's still trying to adjust to the big league hitters," Braves catcher Brian McCann told the team's official Web site. "I think (Saturday) is going to be a momentum builder, because he's going to realize when he does attack early, good things happen."