Arizona (22-35) at Baltimore (25-27)

Light Rain Currently: Baltimore, MD
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Jun 8, 2004
  • TV: FSAZ, CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Randy Johnson hasn’t been dominating in his three starts since pitching a perfect game, but he hasn’t stopped winning.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ 40-year-old left-hander looks to earn a victory in his fifth consecutive start when he faces the Baltimore Orioles in his team’s interleague opener.

Johnson struck out 13 in his perfect game against Atlanta on May 18, but wasn’t nearly as overpowering in his ensuing three outings. He pitched well enough to win each time, though, giving up only a combined nine runs.

Johnson allowed four runs in five innings to beat San Francisco 8-6 on Wednesday. He had four strikeouts to bring his total in his last three starts to 13, matching his total from the perfect game.

The Big Unit has not pitched in Baltimore since the 1997 AL playoffs, when he went the distance for the Seattle Mariners in a 3-1 loss.

“When you’re reaching 34 or 35, you’re at the end of your career— almost,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. “To do what he does and be so dominant, he’s a special athlete.”

Arizona needs its ace to continue his winning ways as it struggles to stay in the race in the weak AL West. The Diamondbacks beat the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 on Sunday, but are 9 1/2 games out of first place.

Danny Bautista hit a go-ahead single during a three-run rally in the seventh as the Diamondbacks won for the first time in 30 games when trailing after six innings. Robby Hammock added two RBIs as Arizona avoided a three-game sweep.

“It’s definitely a confidence-booster,” Hammock said. “It’s something we need to build off of, but also it’s just one game that we’ve come back like that in the late innings this year.”

The Diamondbacks, winners of four of six, haven’t had trouble scoring lately despite the absence of slugger Richie Sexson, who is out for the season. Arizona has 37 runs in the last six games.

The Diamondbacks will look to continue their hot hitting against Orioles starter Sidney Ponson, who has pitched poorly for most of the season. The right-hander was expected to serve as the staff ace after returning to the Orioles as a free agent, but has so far been unable to stabilize the rotation.

That role appears to be falling to Rodrigo Lopez, who turned in his second straight solid performance Sunday in Baltimore’s 5-4 win over Tampa Bay. Lopez, who went 3-1 with a 0.33 ERA as a reliever before moving to the rotation, won has won two straight starts, allowing only four runs over 11 2-3 innings.

The right-hander ended a four-game losing streak by the Orioles, whose last victory was Lopez’s 13-4 win over Boston on May 31.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Johnson SF vs. S. Ponson KC
16-14 Record 11-15
2.60 ERA 5.30
290 K 115
44 BB 69
0.90 WHIP 1.55