CHICAGO (AP)—Randy Johnson sat by his locker and shook his head as he searched for reasons, an effort that was futile.
A dazed and frustrated Johnson allowed home runs to three consecutive batters for the first time in his major league career and four in all during the fourth inning, and the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Yankees 6-2 Sunday to stop a seven-game losing streak.
“I felt great,” said Johnson, who allowed the homers in a 16-pitch span. “The velocity was there.”
But afterward, he felt miserable.
Given a 1-0 lead, Johnson allowed consecutive solo homers to Tadahito Iguchi, Aaron Rowand and Paul Konerko with one out in the fourth and, after singles by Jermaine Dye and Juan Uribe, a three-run shot to Chris Widger.
Johnson (11-8) has allowed 29 homers, the most in the American League and second in the major leagues behind Cincinnati’s Eric Milton (35). The most Johnson has allowed in a season was 30 with Arizona in 1999.
The Big Unit, who missed a start earlier this month because of a bad back, allowed 10 hits, struck out eight and walked none in his fourth complete game this season. His ERA rose to 4.34, but both Johnson and manager Joe Torre said he pitched well.
“His stuff was good,” Torre said. “He’s going to win games pitching like that.”
It was just the second time in his career Johnson allowed four home runs in a start, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other was on June 20, 1999, for Arizona against Atlanta.
Scott Sanderson and Catfish Hunter were the only other Yankees pitchers to allow four homers in an inning.
Chicago tied a franchise record by hitting four in an inning for the third time, the first since May 3, 2000, against Toronto.
“The energy was good today early,” Konerko said. “I knew we’d be in the game. I hope guys realize that we can’t wait for good things to happen and then have energy. You’ve got to come with it first, and then good things follow.”
Former-Yankee Jose Contreras (8-7) allowed two runs—one earned— and 11 hits, and matched his career-high by pitching eight innings. He struck out five and walked none.
“We got 11 hits off of him, so we had some opportunities,” Torre said. “It looked like the right-handers were having better swings than the left-handers. We really never had him on the ropes. He had a great splitter, and it looked like that was what was getting the left-handed hitters. They just couldn’t identify it and he was getting a lot of swings and misses.”
After allowing a leadoff single to Pablo Ozuna in the first, Johnson retired nine straight batters before a White Sox offense that scored two runs in its previous three games came to life.
Iguchi homered to right on a 2-0 pitch, and Rowand homered to right after fouling off a 2-2 pitch to put Chicago ahead.
Konerko, who missed the first two games of the series with a strained lower back, fell behind 0-2 before sending a drive to left for his 32nd homer.
It was the seventh time in franchise history the White Sox hit three consecutive homers. Johnson was the first Yankees pitcher to give up three straight since Bill Fulton in the eighth inning against Minnesota on Sept. 12, 1987.
After the singles by Dye and Uribe, Widger hit his fourth home run of the season, connecting on a high 1-2 pitch that Johnson wanted him to chase.
“How do you explain something like that?” Johnson said. “It’s the one thing that I’ll walk away from this game not really understanding.”
Johnson is 0-2 with two no-decisions since pitching eight scoreless innings against Minnesota on July 26.
“I felt very comfortable watching Randy pitch,” Torre said. “The first three innings it looked like he was having an easy time locating the ball. But that inning, it seemed like the more pitches he tried to make, the less success he had trying to locate them.”