PHOENIX (AP)—Edwin Jackson got the perfect birthday present.
Two years out of high school and two days out of Double-A, Jackson took Hideo Nomo’s spot in Los Angeles’ rotation and pitched six innings to win in his major league debut as the Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Tuesday night.
The performance was even more special because it came on Jackson’s 20th birthday—and against Randy Johnson.
“That’s a bonus,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t expected to win, you know. I went out and I pitched hard and I gave it all I have, and I won, so that’s definitely a bonus. This is one of the best birthdays that I’ll probably ever have.”
Nomo has a sore right shoulder, but manager Jim Tracy said he’d throw in the bullpen Thursday to see if it loosens. If not, the Dodgers could use Jackson again in a few days.
“It’s pretty special on your 20th birthday, against Randy Johnson, to do what he did,” catcher Paul Lo Duca said. “He’s aggressive in the zone, threw strikes, obviously has a very live arm, but he was throwing strikes, and that was the key.”
Lo Duca and Jolbert Cabrera hit run-scoring singles for the Dodgers, who won for the 10th time in 12 games, going 5-0 on their current road trip. Cabrera also doubled in the eighth off Randy Johnson and scored on Alex Cora’s single to center.
Paul Shuey pitched two perfect innings in relief, and Eric Gagne worked the ninth for his 50th save, extending his major league record to 58 straight and becoming the first in major league history to record 50 saves in two seasons. He had 52 saves last year.
“It’s always fun to win, especially today,” Gagne said. “It was his birthday and everything. It was awesome.”
Los Angeles remained two games behind Florida and Philadelphia in the NL wild-card chase, dropping the Diamondbacks seven games back with 17 to go.
Jackson (1-0), whose contract was purchased Sunday from Jacksonville, became the third-youngest Dodger ever to start. Only Joe Moeller (1962) and Dick Calmus (1963) were younger when they got their first start in the majors.
Johnson (4-8), who turns 40 on Wednesday, gave up four runs on eight hits, three walks and a hit batter in eight innings. It was his third straight start without a win, and he’s 1-4 in his last six.
“I was pretty encouraged going deep in the game,” Johnson said. “Outside of just the one inning when they got some key base hits, it was a ballgame.”
The Dodgers took advantage of Arizona’s fielding and mental mistakes to score three runs in the third.
Leadoff hitter Cesar Izturis’ run was unearned—he reached second when Johnson fielded his bunt and threw low to Lyle Overbay, who was charged with an error when the ball glanced off his glove and into foul territory behind first.
Lo Duca and Shawn Green followed with singles up the middle before Adrian Beltre loaded the bases with a chopper over the mound. Johnson leaped and stretched his 6-foot-10 frame to keep the ball in the infield, but then looked at second and third as Beltre raced to first with a hit.
After the first of Johnson’s three strikeouts in the inning, Cabrera hit a short RBI single that kept the bases loaded and Johnson hit Mike Kinkade with a pitch to make it 3-1.
“He’s one of the best pitchers,” Kinkade said. “We were lucky—we had a good inning and we got some singles and put them together, and our pitching came through big tonight.”
“All of our guys, we’re trying our best,” Spivey said. “He made qualitypitches when he had to.”
Jackson is the fifth pitcher to debut as a starter on his birthday. The others were: Pittsburgh’s Fred Woodcock (1892), St. Louis’ Tom Hughes (1959), Minnesota’s Jerry Arrigo (1961) and Houston’s Larry Dierker (1964). … Jackson is one of three high school players from the 2001 draft to reach the majors, joining Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman and Tampa Bay’s Chad Gaudin. … Arizona RHP Curt Schilling had his second MRI within three weeks Tuesday to check out agroin strain. Schilling is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the Dodgers.