Brewers hammer Big Unit - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brewers hammer Big Unit

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Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2003 12:11 am | Updated: 1:07 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

PHOENIX — Like a big-league version of Job, the Diamondbacks are seemingly covered with boils and sores, wondering what ailment could befall them next.

On Friday night, Arizona sent its five-time Cy Young Award winner to the mound and got a house call from baseball’s Good Doctor, the Milwaukee Brewers. However, not even the Big Unit and the team with a cure for any losing streak could relieve the D-Backs’ pain.

In a season of early suffering for Arizona, the Brewers prolonged and intensified it, handing Johnson one of the worst defeats of his career in an 11-7 victory at Bank One Ballpark.

The D-Backs’ record fell to 2-8 — already 7 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the National League West — while Johnson’s ERA rose to 8.31.

“I said before the first game of the season that we’ll have stretches where we don’t hit well, pitch well or field well and don’t catch breaks,” manager Bob Brenly said. “I just didn’t think it would all happen the first week of the season.”

It was Johnson’s first loss in 17 outings against Milwaukee, dating back to Aug. 5, 1992, as a member of the Seattle Mariners.

How long ago was that? Robin Yount, now Arizona’s first base coach, was in the lineup against him, going 1-for-4 with an RBI.

“I felt like I had normal stuff coming out of the bullpen,” said Johnson, whose hit total was the most since allowing 11 at St. Louis on April 8, 2001. “But I wasn’t fooling anyone, as evidenced by the runs and hits I gave up.”

The remaining details only got worse for Johnson, who allowed 10 hits and 10 runs in 4 1/3 innings:

• It was just the second time he has given up 10 earned runs, the last time an Aug. 10, 1994, game at Toronto in which he surrendered that many in 2 1/3 innings.

• The outing was his shortest since Oct. 1, 2000, when Johnson lasted 3 2/3 innings at San Francisco.

• Milwaukee (3-7) scored five runs in the first inning, Johnson’s worst opening frame since the New York Yankees plated six against him on July 9, 1992.

And all this at the hands of the Brewers, who entered play Friday ranked 14th in the NL in runs scored and on-base percentage.

“I couldn’t pinpoint anything,” Brenly said. “His velocity was good, his location was good, for the most part. When he threw a ball over the plate, they hit it. It was very uncharacteristic.

“Obviously, their hitters made up their mind that they were going to be aggressive. They didn’t give Randy a chance to get ahead in the count and get to his slider.”

In the first inning, the paid crowd of 31,958 watched in a near-stupor as Johnson labored through a 25-pitch frame.

Alex Sanchez led off with a double and, with one out, Richie Sexson was hit by a pitch. Then, Geoff Jenkins singled — one of three hits off Johnson, only the seventh left-hander to achieve the feat — for the game’s first run.

With Johnson struggling with his control, he walked Jeffrey Hammonds to load the bases with one out. He went to fastballs, getting Wes Helms on three straight heaters for the second out and a chance to get out of the inning with one run allowed.

But catcher Eddie Perez doubled for two runs, and Royce Clayton singled for two more, making it 5-0.

“He’ll still be dominant this year,” catcher Chad Moeller said. “He’s going to get (ticked) off, make his adjustments, come back and be dominant. You just know that.”

Jenkins finished with his first career five-hit game. In the fifth inning, he doubled for two runs to make it 8-0, then scored on a single by Perez that chased Johnson from the game.

“He just wasn’t as sharp as usual,” Jenkins said. “He left some pitches in the zone. We just tried to be aggressive early in the count.”

Arizona has yet to get a victory from Johnson or Curt Schilling, and — despite seven runs on 10 hits on Friday — it is batting just .223 as a team. But, just like Job, the D-Backs are confident redemption is coming soon.

“It’s got to turn,” Brenly said. “We’ve been around this game long enough to know this can’t go on forever. Eventually, it’s going to even out.”

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