The “Big Unit” looks to improve to 8-0 in his career at Dodger Stadium on Monday when the San Francisco Giants start a three-game set against their arch-rivals.
The Dodgers (4-3) return home after a winning road trip and will have to face a future Hall of Famer who has dominated them in the past at Chavez Ravine. Johnson (0-1, 7.20 ERA) is 7-0 with a 2.04 ERA in 11 career road starts against Los Angeles, with a total of 85 strikeouts.
He remains five wins shy of reaching 300 after a rough start in his San Francisco debut Wednesday. Johnson gave up four runs and four hits over five innings in a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, including a three-run homer by opposing starter Yovani Gallardo.
“He threw great, (but) one pitch was the difference in the game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He had good stuff. It was just one pitch that he didn’t get away with. That kid can swing a bat. We know it.”
Johnson will get a chance to face Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez, who went 4-for-19 (.211) with six strikeouts against the left-hander from 1994-98. Over the last 10 seasons, though, Ramirez has improved to hit .310 (9-for-29) with four homers and eight strikeouts versus Johnson.
Los Angeles will send a starter to the mound who has never lost to San Francisco in Chad Billingsley (1-0, 3.00), who is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in six career starts against the Giants. He went 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA versus them last season with 14 strikeouts over 15 innings in two starts.
Billingsley, though, hasn’t had much success pitching to San Francisco’s Randy Winn, who is 7-for-14 with five RBIs against him.
The right-hander was effective in his first outing of 2009 on Wednesday by allowing two runs and two hits in six innings of a 5-2 victory at San Diego. He issued three of his four walks in the fifth inning.
“Overall, I felt good,” Billingsley said. “I settled in until the fifth where I couldn’t seem to locate or find my rhythm. I was able to get out of it with limited damage, only two runs.”
The Dodgers and Giants (2-4) split 18 meetings last season, as Ramirez batted .407 (11-for-27) with seven RBIs in eight games after he was acquired by Los Angeles.
This will be one of just seven home games for the Dodgers in April, the lowest total in the majors.
Los Angeles enters with more positive momentum than San Francisco after the Dodgers won two of three in Arizona over the weekend. Randy Wolf allowed one run and two hits over seven-plus innings in a 3-1 victory Sunday.
James Loney went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .370 (10-for-27), including an RBI single in the second inning that snapped a 1-1 tie. Loney batted just .203 against the Giants last year.
San Francisco was swept in its first road series of the season, scoring a total of seven runs in three losses to San Diego over the weekend. Cleanup hitter Bengie Molina went 2-for-12 and No. 5 batter Pablo Sandoval was 1-for-12 in that set.