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Johnson posts fifth consecutive 300K season

9/10/2002

PHOENIX (AP) -- On the eve of his 39th birthday, Randy Johnson
was no aging pitcher. Pitcher for the ages is more like it.

The Big Unit reached 300 strikeouts for the fifth consecutive
season and earned his 21st victory as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat
the San Diego Padres 5-2 Monday night.

''That's pretty special,'' he said of reaching 300 again.
''Nobody else has done that in the history of the game.''

Johnson, who moved into fourth on the career strikeout list in
his previous start, already held the major league record of four
consecutive 300-strikeout seasons. His fourth 300-strikeout season
in a row with Arizona set a record for National League pitchers.

''I don't feel like I'm 39,'' he said. ''I feel like I still
have a lot to give to this team.''

Johnson has six 300-strikeout seasons overall, tying the major
league mark held by Nolan Ryan.

''I'm having my best years now, probably near the latter part of
my career, and I take a great deal of pride in that, just like he
did,'' Johnson said. ''His work ethic is what allowed him to do
what he did so well. That's one thing that we have in common.''

Still, Johnson said he doesn't intend to stay around as long as
Ryan did.

''When he was 45 or 46, he was still winning ballgames and
striking people out,'' Johnson said. ''When I'm 46, I'll be on the
golf course.''

Johnson reached No. 300 with his seventh and final strikeout of
the night, getting Gene Kingsale looking to start the seventh.

After reliever Brett Prinz allowed a run in the eighth,
Byung-Hyun Kim pitched a scoreless ninth for his 33rd save in 38
opportunities.

Johnson (21-5) scattered eight hits and walked three in seven
innings. The lone run he allowed came on Ron Gant's homer leading
off the sixth.

''Our guys got some base hits. The key is getting that one more
hit,'' Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. ''He (Johnson) has that
ability to turn it up when he has to, and he did tonight.''

Johnson helped himself again at the plate with a run-scoring single. He
has six RBI in his past four starts. His eight
RBI this season ties the club record for a pitcher he set in 2000.

Johnson's 21st victory matched the career best he set last
season, when he was 21-6.

The NL West-leading Diamondbacks snapped a three-game skid and
won for just the fourth time in 13 games. The rare routine victory,
coupled with San Francisco's victory against Los Angeles, left Arizona
5½ games ahead of the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West with 18 to
play.

''All we care about is Ws right now,'' Arizona manager Bob
Brenly said. ''We want to put wins on the board and let everybody
else do something amazing to catch us. This one did come in a
rather orderly fashion, and that was nice to see for a change.''

Erubiel Durazo hit his 16th home run and Matt Williams was
3-for-4, including his first triple in more than two years, as the
Diamondbacks' slumbering offense broke loose against Brett Tomko.

Tony Womack was 2-for-4 with an RBI to extend his hitting streak
to 11 games.

Durazo's homer, in the second inning on the first pitch he saw
from Tomko, was his first since Aug. 17, a span of 46 at-bats.

Williams followed with a hit that got past a diving Bubba Trammel
in right field. Williams scored on the play when second baseman
Julius Matos' cutoff throw to third sailed into the Arizona dugout.

''Bubba falls down and the ball rolls almost to the wall and I
barely get to third,'' Williams said. ''That was a 90-foot bonus, a
Little League home run.''

Tomko (9-9) allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings in
his first defeat in six starts. He had gone 4-0 in his last five
outings.

''It's weird,'' Tomko said. ''Honestly, I felt like that was
some of the best stuff I've had all year, but location-wise, I
missed a couple of spots in pretty good situations. I made a couple
of bad pitches. When you give Randy any kind of breathing room,
it's tough to come back.''

The Diamondbacks made it 3-0 in the third. Womack and Steve
Finley singled, then Womack scored when Junior Spivey grounded into
a fielder's choice.

Arizona added two more in the fourth on run-scoring singles by Johnson
and Womack.

Game notes
Arizona has lost four consecutive series for the first time
since its 1998 expansion season. ... Williams' last triple was at
Cincinnati on July 21, 2000. ... Tomko leads the majors in HRs
allowed with 29. ... San Diego's best hitters in recent games,
left-handed batters Ryan Klesko and Sean Burroughs, were out of the
lineup against Johnson. ... Arizona had scored fewer than three
runs in seven of its previous 12 games.