Randy Johnson closed in on another pitching milestone Saturday, although it mattered little to him.
Johnson struck out a season-high 10 in another strong outing, but Atlanta’s Jeff Francoeur stole the day with a two-run, walk-off home run in the ninth inning for a 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.
Johnson gave up one run on five hits and struck out six of the final 11 batters he faced, getting his 210th career double-digit strikeout game, just five fewer than Nolan Ryan, who holds the major league record. With 4,663 strikeouts, Johnson is now nine behind Roger Clemens for No. 2 on the career list.
“I don’t put a lot of credence in that,” Johnson said. “If you don’t win the ballgame, it doesn’t matter. I felt I had good command with all my pitches. It’s kind of frustrating, but it’s been a frustrating road trip.”
The NL West-leading D-Backs (29-20) have lost four of the first five games on a trip that ends with games today and Monday in Atlanta.
Francoeur, who homered off Chad Qualls, said he was just glad he didn’t have to face Johnson again after striking out twice and getting an infield single off him.
“He might not throw the ball 95, 96 (mph), but his slider — when you think it’s going to get over the plate, it comes in and bites you,” Francoeur said.
Francoeur hit a slider from Qualls, who entered after Chipper Jones singled and Mark Teixeira grounded out against Doug Slaten to start the ninth.
D-Backs manager Bob Melvin summoned Slaten, a left-hander, to face switch-hitters Jones and Teixeira because both have better numbers against right-handers.
“It was like choose your poison with Teixeira and Francoeur,” Melvin said.
After breaking out of a collective slump with 11 runs and five home runs in Doug Davis’ return Friday, the D-Backs had only three hits against four Atlanta pitchers Saturday.
The D-backs were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position — the one hit was Augie Ojeda’s pinch-hit single with two outs and two on in the seventh inning to tie the score at 1.
Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar drove in Atlanta’s run off Johnson with a one-out single to score Gregor Blanco, who led off with a triple.
“In a one-run game like that, little mistakes can make a difference,” Johnson said.
“The triple stands out a little bit more than it should. I got behind in the count, and the next man up was the pitcher. Things were looking up and I was optimistic, but they scored a run.”
Escobar also hurt the D-Backs defensively when he barehanded Conor Jackson’s ground ball and stepped on second to start an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, preserving Atlanta’s 1-0 lead.
SHORT HOPS: Chad Tracy was to fly to Atlanta today and be activated for Monday’s game, as his 20-day rehabilitation assignment has expired.
Tracy had three-hit games in two of his last three starts entering Saturday night’s game and was batting .267 with no home runs and six RBIs with the Sidewinders. He had nine hits in his last 22 at-bats. To make room on the roster, the D-Backs could option catcher Robby Hammock to Tucson. Hammock caught Randy Johnson’s perfect game in Atlanta four years ago, but Miguel Montero has become Johnson’s personal catcher, starting his last six outings.
Justin Upton is 0-for-17 with 13 strikeouts and four walks on the road trip.
Tribune writer Jack Magruder contributed to this report