"During the course of the game, I asked if he had gotten it,"
Johnson said. "I knew there was going to be a perfect game
possibly somewhere. It just wasn't mine."Indeed, he wasn't perfect again, nor was Glavine, but Johnson
was still good enough to extend his dominance over the Florida
Marlins.Johnson didn't allow a baserunner until the third inning in his
first outing since throwing a perfect game against Atlanta last
week, and the Arizona Diamondbacks used a four-run, two-out rally
in the fifth inning against Dontrelle Willis to win 4-3.Johnson extended his string of consecutive batters retired to 39
over his last three starts -- two shy of Jim Barr's major league
record set for San Francisco in 1972. But the run ended when
Abraham Nunez led off the third with a double.In seven innings, Johnson (5-4) allowed four hits and two runs
with five strikeouts for Arizona, which won for only the third time
in its last 11 games. Johnson beat Florida for the seventh time in
eight decisions."I was just going out there and keeping us in the ballgame,"
Johnson said. "I didn't care whether I threw a perfect game in
Atlanta, so I'm sure I didn't care if I threw a perfect game out
there today."Added Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly: "It's pretty tough to
compare to his last outing, but he was good enough to win today.
That's all we needed."Meanwhile, Glavine was trying to match Johnson's feat, but
settled for a one-hitter in the New York Mets' win over Colorado.Shea Hillenbrand, in the lineup because first baseman Richie
Sexson's injured shoulder sent him back to the disabled list
earlier in the day, had three hits and a RBI for the Diamondbacks,
who also got two hits each from Alex Cintron, Steve Finley and
Danny Bautista.Jeff Conine and Miguel Cabrera homered for Florida, which had a
three-game winning streak snapped and fell a half-game behind
Philadelphia for first place in the NL East."It's all for naught," Conine said. "We battled one of the
best pitchers in the history of the game. We had a couple of
chances, but it didn't work out."Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his third save, despite
allowing Cabrera's 12th homer of the season to lead off the inning.
It was Cabrera's first home run in 49 at-bats.Florida took the early lead in the third. Nunez, facing Johnson
for the first time and hitting .178 in 44 career games before
Sunday, led off with a double down the third-base line and went to
third on Willis' groundout two batters later. He scored on Luis
Castillo's soft single to center for only the second run yielded by
Johnson in 19 innings.Willis (4-3) retired Robby Hammock and Johnson to open the
fifth, but quickly found trouble. Matt Kata started the rally with
a ground-rule double to center, and scored easily when right
fielder Cabrera bobbled Cintron's single.Luis Gonzalez -- who was mired in a 2-for-18 skid -- followed with
a double to score Cintron. Hillenbrand then doubled to right, a
ball Cabrera appeared to briefly lose in the sun, to knock home
Gonzalez, and Finley blooped in a single to center to bring
Gonzalez around with the fourth run.Arizona entered Sunday averaging only 2.4 runs in its last 10
games."We need everybody to just do a little bit," Brenly said.
"Get your base hits, take what the pitcher's giving."Willis allowed nine hits and the four earned runs in four
innings. Over his last five starts, last year's NL rookie of the
year is 1-3 with an 8.61 ERA -- a far cry from the 3-0, 0.71 ERA
start he got off to in his first four outings of the season."I threw good pitches, but they were hitting the ball," Willis
said. "If you are able to get out of the jam, no one brings it up.
Even when I was giving up those hits, I was in a good rhythm."Marlins manager Jack McKeon said he was concerned about Willis'
lack of consistency."For four innings, he was pretty good. ... Then he went to
pieces," McKeon said.Conine's solo homer in the sixth made it 4-2. The Marlins got
within one on Cabrera's home and had the tying run at second with
one out in the ninth, but Valverde struck out Nunez and got
pinch-hitter Lenny Harris to fly out, ending the game.
Johnson raised his major league-leading strikeout total to
86, bringing him within 43 of 4,000 for his career. ... Gonzalez's
fifth-inning RBI was only his fourth in his last 12 road games. ...
Juan Pierre, who entered the day hitting .392 at home, went
0-for-4. ... The paid attendance of 40,819 was Florida's
fourth-biggest crowd of the season.