“I’m on pace to catch Barry (Bonds) in home runs—giving them up, that is,” the 45-year-old left-hander said with a weary sigh.
Although Johnson yielded three more homers and couldn’t stop Ryan Zimmerman’s(notes) 29-game hitting streak, the San Francisco Giants ensured his 298th career victory Monday night with their own offensive barrage in an 11-7 win over the Washington Nationals.
Randy Winn(notes) had three hits and scored three runs, while Travis Ishikawa(notes) also had three hits and drove in two runs as the Giants produced their biggest run total of the season in their 14th victory in 20 games.
The 6-foot-10 Johnson (3-3) gave up eight hits and four runs while outdueling 6-foot-9 Daniel Cabrera(notes) in the tallest pitching matchup in baseball history. Johnson threw five strong innings before fading in the sixth after a long, chilly stroll around the basepaths while the Giants drew five consecutive walks and scored five unearned runs in their eighth straight victory over Washington.
“It was an all-or-nothing kind of night,” said Johnson, whose 10 homers allowed lead the majors. “You’re going to make mistakes, but it just seems like they’re magnified now. I don’t get away with as many things as I used to. … It was a lot of fun to watch our offense, though. I hope it carries over into tomorrow.”
His 300th victory now is clearly in sight—and if Johnson can beat the Mets and Johan Santana(notes) on Saturday, he would have the chance to hit the milestone in Seattle, where he spent parts of 10 seasons.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like it,” said Ishikawa, a Seattle native who was 5 when the Mariners traded for Johnson in 1989. “It’s gratifying because I grew up watching him compete against the best guys. I would watch him every chance I got. If the game wasn’t on TV, I’d listen on the radio.”
Johnson’s three victories in his first season with San Francisco all have been at the Giants’ waterfront ballpark, where a record-low 23,934 fans attended the frigid series opener.
Zimmerman went 4 for 5 with two homers for the Nationals, including a solo shot in the sixth off Johnson and a three-run shot in the ninth. He wasted no time extending the longest hitting streak in the Nationals’ brief history and the longest by a third baseman in a quarter-century when he slapped a first-inning single.
“He’s a big man. I’ve got legs and arms and everything coming at me,” Zimmerman said of Johnson. “His slider looks pretty good, just like it does on TV. I can see why he’s been so good.”
With his ninth-inning shot off the tin covering on the right-field arcade, Zimmerman improved to 48 for 126 (.381) since the streak began.
Cabrera (0-4) gave up eight hits and six walks, including four straight free passes to close his 12th straight start without a victory.
The Giants rallied in the fifth because Willingham terribly misjudged Fred Lewis’(notes) two-out fly to left. The ball landed behind Willingham as he ran forward with his glove raised, allowing Pablo Sandoval(notes) and Winn to score.
Cabrera, who angrily refused to speak to reporters afterward, immediately fell apart. He issued four straight walks, one intentional. Reliever Logan Kensing(notes) then walked Sandoval to put the Giants up 8-2.
“He pitched much better than the numbers showed,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “He ought to be able to put errors behind him and pick up his teammates. He sort of crumbled. He wasn’t able to handle the error behind him. This is the big leagues. There’s a difference between the minors and majors from the mental aspect. You have to be consistent.”
After Zimmerman’s two-out homer in the ninth, Washington got two more runners on, forcing the Giants to use closer Brian Wilson(notes). He struck out Willingham on three pitches for his eighth save in 10 opportunities.
The Big Unit and Cabrera measure a combined 163 inches—one more than the combined heights of Cabrera and Mark Hendrickson(notes) on Sept. 1, 2004, in the previous record-holding matchup, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Willingham’s homer was the 400th allowed in Johnson’s career. Jamie Moyer(notes) is the only active pitcher to give up more homers.