Johnson hopes to post his 13th win as the hapless Diamondbacks close out a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Johnson has allowed one earned run and nine hits while striking out 28 over 16 innings in his last two starts. In Friday’s 2-0 loss to Cincinnati, the intimidating left-hander struck out 14 for the second straight game, becoming just the second pitcher in major league history to reach double digits 200 times.
Johnson trails only Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan (215) in games with 10 or more strikeouts.
“It’s absolutely meaningless to me,” Johnson said of the milestone. “It’s one game today. I’ve been around long enough to have done that, and there’s even a column where you can go out and do that kind of stuff and you’ll lose ballgames, unfortunately. So it doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome.”
Johnson dropped his ERA to 2.80, fourth-best in the National League, but still saw his record fall to 12-11.
“Once again, this guy pitched his (butt) off tonight,” Diamondbacks manager Al Pedrique said. “He was great. He kept us in the game and, to be honest with you, I don’t know what to say to you guys.”
The Diamondbacks have dropped 15 of 18, including a 3-1 loss in the middle game of the series Tuesday.
Starter Edgar Gonzalez matched his longest start of the year, allowing two runs in six innings, but fell to 0-7.
Pirates starter Oliver Perez struck out nine in eight sharp innings as the Pirates stopped a five-game losing streak.
Perez entered the game leading the NL with an average of 11 strikeouts per nine innings, and fanned five over his last two. The 23-year-old lefty gave up five hits and walked two.
Daryle Ward had three hits and drove in two runs for the Pirates. He entered the game hitting just .207 since returning from the disabled list Aug. 15.