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Johnson overpowers Tigers for 10th win

6/16/2002

PHOENIX (AP) -- Randy Johnson had his great slider going again,
and that was too much for free-swinging Detroit.

Johnson struck out 13 and earned his 10th victory of the season
Saturday night as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Tigers 3-1.

Mark Grace, pinch-hitting for Johnson, singled in the go-ahead
run with two outs in the eighth inning.

Johnson (10-2) knew that the Tigers were an aggressive team, so
he reversed his usual strategy and often started hitters with a
breaking ball. And what a breaking ball it was.

"If I had that all the time, yeah, the game would be a lot
easier, but I don't have it all the time,'' Johnson said of one of
the nastiest sliders any pitcher has thrown.

With a fastball regularly hitting 98 mph, Johnson (10-2)
scattered seven hits, walked two and hit a batter. The only run he
allowed was unearned, due to his own fielding error.

"There is no doubt that that's the best slider Randy has had in
quite some time,'' Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said. "He's
been struggling to find his comfort zone with that pitch. Some
nights it's better than others, but tonight was very reminiscent of
last year. At times he could throw it for strikes. At others, he
bounced it at their back foot, and they had a hard time
distinguishing between the two.''

Adam Bernero matched Johnson through six innings but left for a
pinch-hitter to start the seventh after throwing just 71 pitches.

Bernero, called up earlier this season from Triple-A Toledo,
allowed four hits, struck out four and walked one. Arizona's only
run against him came on a wild pitch. His strong performance came
one night after Mark Maroth, in his second big league start,
outpitched Curt Schilling in Detroit's 6-3 victory.

Steve Finley doubled off reliever Julio Santana (3-1) with one
out in the seventh. After Tony Womack flew out, the Tigers
intentionally walked Alex Cintron to bring up Grace and make sure
Johnson left the game. Grace lined a 3-1 pitch to center, scoring
Finley from second.

Grace, relegated to a reserve role with Erubiel Durazo and Greg
Colbrunn getting most of the playing time at first base, was asked
if he was getting more comfortable a pinch-hitter.

"I don't have a choice,'' he said. "It's definitely not easy.
But the way Colby and Ruby have been playing, they deserve to play.
I'm kind of the odd man out, so I have to try to help us coming off
the bench.''

With no designated hitter in the National League ballpark,
Detroit manager Luis Pujols felt he had to pinch-hit for Bernero.

"Against Randy Johnson, I've got to get a chance to win the
game. You try to get something going,'' Pujols said. "That's the
same reason I put the guy on to get Johnson out of the game. That's
the way you play in this league.''

Byung-Hyun Kim pitched the last two innings for his 18th save in
20 opportunities. It was his fourth save in Arizona's last five
wins.

With Johnson's slider taking wicked bounces, catcher Damian
Miller made several big stops with runners on third base.

"I lost count,'' said Brenly, a former catcher. "A dozen, 15,
20, I'm not sure how many pitches he blocked in the dirt, a lot of
them with runners on base.''

Miller also threw out two runners trying to steal second.

Tigers hitting coach Merv Rettenmund was ejected by plate umpire
Mark Wegner with one out in the fifth for arguing balls and
strikes.

Detroit's Robert Fick was 3-for-4 for the second night in a row
to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. Fick doubled off Kim with
two outs in the eighth and left for a pinch-runner. Brandon Inge
walked for the third time in the game, and Kim struck out
pinch-hitter Dmitri Young to end the threat.

After loading the bases with one out and failing to score in the
fifth, the Tigers loaded them with no outs in the sixth and managed
an unearned run to tie it at 1-1.

Randall Simon reached safely to lead off the sixth when Johnson
couldn't handle his high chopper. Fick followed with a single, then
Inge walked. Simon scored when Damion Easley hit into a double
play, then Chris Truby struck out to end the inning.

Arizona went up 1-0 in the fifth. Womack singled, then Cintron
hit a bloop double down the left-field line to put runners at
second and third with one out. After Johnson struck out, Womack
raced home on Benero's wild pitch into the dirt that batter Craig
Counsell had to jump to avoid.

Finley singled in Quinton McCracken off Jamie Walker in the
eighth to make it 3-1.

Game notes
Ramon Santiago lined the first pitch of the game off
Johnson's left shin. ... Arizona's ninth sellout crowd of the
season attended Bob Brenly bobblehead night. "Of the few honors
I've received in this game, this ranks right up there, to have my
own bobblehead,'' the Diamondbacks manager said. ... Young,
scheduled to start in left field, was a last-minute scratch because
he aggravated a hernia.