Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 2
PHOENIX (AP)—Randy Johnson walked off the field with his hat high in the air and his team in position to win.
It didn’t turn out to be a happy ending.
The Big Unit struck out 14 in eight innings Sunday in what might turn out to be his last start for the Diamondbacks, but the Colorado Rockies rallied against the bullpen in the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory that extended Arizona’s team-record losing streak to 14 games.
“I had stuff that wasn’t too bad for a 40-year-old,” Johnson said.
Arizona has had preliminary talks about possible trades for Johnson, who is making $16 million this year and is due $16 million in 2005. The New York Yankees and Anaheim are thought to be the top candidates to land the five-time Cy Young Award winner, who has a no-trade clause and says he would approve a deal only to a team that has a chance to play in the World Series.
Johnson, co-MVP of Arizona’s World Series win over the Yankees in 2001, tipped his cap while receiving a standing ovation after the top of the eighth.
“I’ve always appreciated the fans and acknowledged them,” Johnson said.
“They’re aware of that,” he said of the trade rumors, “and I wanted to acknowledge what they’ve always done for me.”
The deadline for trades without waivers is Saturday, a day after Johnson is scheduled to face the Rockies in Colorado.
“I’m looking forward to my next start against these guys,” Johnson said.
Johnson allowed six hits and walked none, allowing just three batters to reach second base and leaving with a 1-0 lead. He lowered his ERA to 2.68 and raised his major league-leading strikeout total to 174. Johnson has 198 games with 10 or more strikeouts, 17 shy of Nolan Ryan’s record.
“We’ve seen Randy on a number of occasions and we really saw him today,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “We got some people on but when push came to shove, he shoved back.”
Johnson’s emotions were on display throughout. He slashed upward with his glove after striking out Royce Clayton to end the third and pumped his fist twice after striking out Luis Gonzalez to end the fourth.
Arizona went 0-11 on a homestand against Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Colorado and dropped to 4-30 since June 18. The Diamondbacks haven’t won since beating San Francisco on July 8.
“It’s been this way all year,” Arizona manager Al Pedrique said. “Somebody in the bullpen needs to step up and hold that kind of lead. It’s a shame to lose game like today.”
Colorado’s Jason Jennings (9-8) didn’t allow a hit until Steve Finley singled with one out in the sixth innings. Finley doubled off Jennings leading off the eighth and scored on a looping single by Chad Tracy that fell in front of left fielder Matt Holliday.
“He’s a pinch hitter,” Hurdle said. “That’s what Sweeney does and he does it as well as anybody in the game. To come through for us the way he has, that’s special. You pick everybody up. You pick 24 other guys up.”
Jennings allowed four hits, walked three—one intentionally—and struck out seven. He entered the game with an 0-3 record and 11.09 ERA in four starts at Arizona.
“It makes it even more satisfying that I hadn’t pitched well here at all,” he said.
Jennings was aided early by a pair of stellar defensive plays.
Clayton dived to his left at shortstop to catch Tracy’s hard liner two batters into the game. In the fifth, Castilla made a diving stop of Scott Hairston’s liner to third, barely controlling the ball in the top of his glove’s webbing as he fell to the infield grass.
Jennings doubled in his first two at-bats, giving him 10 hits and four doubles in 42 at-bats (.238). … Arizona reached 20 million in home attendance with a crowd of 29,298.