LOS ANGELES Every five days, Randy Johnson makes the Diamondbacks look good.
Johnson on Friday improved to 6-0 at Dodger Stadium in his career and Elmer Dessens — "today’s closer," manager Bob Brenly said — earned his second major league save in a 6-3 defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks have four wins in their last 16 games, and Johnson has three of them.
"He’s been our cork in the boat," said Luis Gonzalez, who had a two-run homer.
Johnson, who pitched 6 1/3 solid innings, is the only active pitcher with more than three decisions at Chavez Ravine and an unblemished record.
Mike Koplove and Randy Choate followed, and Dessens worked the final 1 2/3 innings.
Brenly explained he wanted to give newly appointed closer Scott Service, who had worked the previous three days, a night off.
"Elmer was just throwing good enough to give us the confidence to leave him in there," Brenly said.
"I just tried to throw strikes and make things happen," said Dessens, whose only other save came June 24, 2000, when he pitched the final four innings of a Cincinnati defeat of San Diego.
He entered Friday’s game in the eighth inning, with a 5-3 lead, one out and Shawn Green on first (via a single off Choate). Dessens struck out Adrian Beltre and got Juan Encarnacion to hit into a fielder’s choice to escape that jam and then worked the ninth.
Johnson came out after Jose Hernandez’s RBI single in the seventh cut Arizona’s lead to 4-2.
"I thought he was spent, but I wanted to go out there and see how he felt," Brenly said.
"He didn’t disagree, so it was time to make the move." Said Johnson: "I just wasn’t making my pitches like I was (before). I wasn’t hitting my location."
Johnson’s ERA increased slightly to 2.48; Roger Clemens passed him for sixth in the National League.
"It was good enough to win," said Johnson, charged with three earned runs for the first time since April 21, "and we’ll take it because we’re struggling. But obviously I would have liked to pitch a little bit better."
Dodgers starter Wilson Alvarez, who had also been 5-0 at Dodger Stadium in his career, left after two innings with a left hip strain.
Alvarez (2-2) was charged with the loss because he allowed a run in the second inning that put Arizona ahead for good.
In the fifth inning, Gonzalez — in a 1-for-15 slide and with one RBI over 31 at-bats — hammered a 416-foot, two-run homer to increase the lead to 4-0.
It was Gonzalez’s 19th homer at Dodger Stadium, his most at any park which he has never called home.