San Francisco (77-64) at Arizona (42-98)

  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Fri Sep 10, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Randy Johnson leads the majors in ERA and strikeouts, but he’s still struggling through one of the most frustrating seasons of his career.

Johnson looks to avoid matching his career high for losses as the major league-worst Arizona Diamondbacks open a three-game series with the San Francisco Giants at Bank One Ballpark.

Johnson allowed four runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat to the Giants. The intimidating left-hander struck out seven, extending his major league-leading total to 249.

Johnson, who turns 41 on Friday, is just 16 strikeouts shy of left-hander Steve Carlton (4,136) for third place on the all-time list. Carlton trails only right-handers Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan.

Johnson has lost three straight decisions, and is just one loss shy of the 14 defeats he suffered with Seattle in 1992. He has won 99 games for Arizona and 241 for his career.

“I feel bad for Randy, losing tough games like this,” said Giants closer Dustin Hermanson. “I’m sure he’s not feeling too good. When I saw him out there, I just wanted to say, ‘Hang in there, buddy.”’

The Diamondbacks have scored just three runs in Johnson’s last four starts. He has a 2.38 ERA and has held opponents to a .195 average over his last 14 starts, but has gone just 3-7 over that stretch.

“It’s challenging every time you go out,” Johnson admitted. “To go out with a slim margin every fifth day, it takes a toll on you. You realize you have to be perfect, and I’ve only thrown one perfect game in my career.”

Giants slugger Barry Bonds called Johnson the best left-hander ever. Bonds, who is just two homers shy of becoming the third player ever to hit 700, is 14-for-47 (.298) with three homers all-time against Johnson.

The Giants beat Colorado 5-3 on Wednesday, earning a split of the four-game series. San Francisco is tied with Houston atop the NL wild-card standings.

“It’s hard to believe that we split and are in the lead,” manager Felipe Alou said. “The wild card, you never win it and you never lose it until the season is over, and there are many contenders and pretenders. It’s a mess.”

Edgardo Alfonzo homered and drove in two runs and Marquis Grissom had three doubles for the Giants, who had 16 hits.

The Diamondbacks lost 5-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday for their sixth straight defeat. Rookie catcher Chris Snyder homered for the Diamondbacks, who are 56 games below .500 for the first time in team history.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Tomko COL vs. R. Johnson SF
11-7 Record 16-14
4.04 ERA 2.60
108 K 290
64 BB 44
1.34 WHIP 0.90