Detroit at Arizona

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Detroit (17-27)000000000071
Arizona (28-16) «00002200x480

Big Unit starting to show signs of old self

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PHOENIX -- No longer armed with an intimidating fastball and crackling slider, Randy Johnson is finding new ways to win.

Mixing a sinker and split-finger fastball into his repertoire, Johnson pitched seven scoreless innings for his 288th career victory, and the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Detroit Tigers 4-0 on Sunday.

"Back when a lot of these guys faced him, it was fastball in, slider in," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "Now he throws a sinker, he throws a split, uses both sides of the plate a little bit more."

The 44-year-old Johnson (4-1) climbed into a tie with Tommy John for 24th on the all-time victory list.

"He's been amazing," said center fielder Chris Young, who had three RBI, including a two-run double.

Mark Reynolds added three hits for the Diamondbacks, who improved to a major league-best 28-16 and increased their lead in the NL West to 5½ games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Johnson went a season-long seven innings to win his fourth straight decision, allowing six hits and a walk and striking out five. Melvin lifted his lefty after 98 pitches.

"It's just getting into a flow and getting the rhythm and throwing the ball where he wants to," Melvin said. "If he does that, then a lot of times he's going to have results like he did today."

Johnson was the last pitcher to no-hit the Tigers; he did it on June 2, 1990, while pitching for Seattle.

Eighteen years and several operations later, the Big Unit is a different pitcher. He came into Sunday's start having allowed 36 hits, 11 walks and three hit batsmen in 31 2/3 innings.

In his last three outings, Johnson had surrendered 14 runs in 15 innings.

"My location was better, so therefore I didn't get hit like I had the last few starts where my location was off," Johnson said.

Johnson is learning to survive with less than overpowering stuff. On Sunday, he worked out of early trouble against the woeful Tigers, who were shut out for the seventh time.

"Once he got out of a couple of jams early on, he just started rolling, and then seemed like from about the third inning on he threw almost every pitch right where he wanted to," Melvin said.

Detroit put runners in scoring position in each of the first five innings but couldn't come up with a big hit.

In the first, Johnson gave up back-to-back singles with one out before getting Magglio Ordonez to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

"We had a shot right off the bat and we didn't get anything out of it," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

In the fourth, Johnson gave up a leadoff double to Miguel Cabrera, then struck out Marcus Thames, got Ryan Raburn on a pop to second and retired Brandon Inge on a liner to center to keep his shutout going.

Johnson rolled from there, retiring 12 of the last 13 men he faced.

"Endurance-wise, I felt pretty good," Johnson said. "Today, there was quick innings. They were swinging early in the count, so I was able to get some fast outs."

The Tigers, last in the AL Central, wrapped up a 1-5 trip to Kansas City and Arizona. They were outscored 23-12 on the trip.

"It's like a broken record," Leyland said. "We just haven't been swinging the bats. We didn't swing them today. Next question."

The Tigers went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Sunday, and 1-for-20 in the series.

"I don't know what the answer is to this offense," Leyland said. "I can't figure it out."

Detroit starter Nate Robertson (1-5) retired 10 of the first 11 men he faced. In the fifth, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases with no outs. Robertson struck out Johnson but then gave up a double to Young to deep center, putting the Diamondbacks ahead 2-0.

"I just left a changeup up and he put a good swing on it," Robertson said.

Robertson ran out of gas with two out in the sixth. He gave up a single to Reynolds and a double to Chris Burke, and Reynolds scored on Ordonez's fielding error -- his first in 180 games.

Robertson walked Miguel Montero intentionally, then walked Johnson to load the bases.

Leyland brought in Freddy Dolsi, who walked Young to make it 4-0.

Robertson allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out five.

The Tigers will take Monday off and open a six-game homestand against Seattle on Tuesday night. "We'll go back home, and we keep on saying the same thing, get it going," Robertson said.

Notes

  • Ordonez was charged with his first error since April 6, 2007, at Kansas City, a span of 180 errorless games. It's the longest streak by a Detroit outfielder since Al Kaline went 242 straight errorless games from April 15, 1970, to July 2, 1972.
  • Detroit OF Gary Sheffield flied out as a pinch-hitter. He went 0-for-10 on Detroit's six-game road trip and is hitting .189.
  • Arizona improved to 13-8 all-time against Detroit in interleague play, and 8-4 in Phoenix.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Randy Johnson strikes out five to win his fourth straight decision.  (AP)
Randy Johnson strikes out five to win his fourth straight decision. (AP)

Players of the Game
Arizona

R. Johnson
IP 7.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 1
K 5
Arizona

M. Reynolds
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
 

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Detroit Tigers
Ivan Rodriguez, C4010000 .264
Placido Polanco, 2B4020000 .271
Edgar Renteria, SS3020101 .263
Magglio Ordonez, RF4000004 .307
Miguel Cabrera, 1B4010030 .270
Marcus Thames, LF3000011 .224
   a- Curtis Granderson, PH1000000 .233
Ryan Raburn, CF4010011 .267
Brandon Inge, 3B3000012 .221
Nate Robertson, P2000010 .000
    Freddy Dolsi, P0000000 .000
    Bobby Seay, P0000000 .000
   b- Gary Sheffield, PH1000000 .189
    Zach Miner, P0000000 .000
Totals3307017  
a-flied out for Thames in the 9th
b-flied out for Seay in the 7th
Batting
2B - Placido Polanco (8, R. Johnson), Miguel Cabrera (8, R. Johnson), Ryan Raburn (3, R. Johnson)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Magglio Ordonez (1, Misplayed grounder)
Detroit Tigers
Nate Robertson (L,1-5) 5.2744450 6.08
Freddy Dolsi0000100 2.08
Bobby Seay 0.1000000 1.88
Zach Miner 2100020 7.43
IBB - Montero by Nate Robertson
WP - Nate Robertson (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Nate Robertson 91-50, Freddy Dolsi 7-3, Bobby Seay 3-2, Zach Miner 26-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nate Robertson 2-9, Bobby Seay 1-0, Zach Miner 1-3
Batters Faced - Nate Robertson 27, Freddy Dolsi 1, Bobby Seay 1, Zach Miner 7
Arizona Diamondbacks
Chris Young, CF3013100 .254
Stephen Drew, SS4000025 .280
Justin Upton, RF4010012 .318
Conor Jackson, 1B4010010 .310
Eric Byrnes, LF3000102 .217
Mark Reynolds, 3B4230001 .233
Chris Burke, 2B3210102 .186
Miguel Montero, C3010110 .342
Randy Johnson, P2000123 .200
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
   a- Jeff Salazar, PH1000001 .267
    Brandon Lyon, P0000000 .000
Totals3148357  
a-lined out for Qualls in the 8th
Batting
2B - Chris Young (12, Robertson), Conor Jackson (7, Robertson), Chris Burke (2, Robertson)
RBI - Chris Young 3 (24)
2-OUT RBI - Chris Young (7)
SB - Mark Reynolds (5, 2nd base off Miner/Rodriguez)
CS - Eric Byrnes (3, 2nd base by Robertson/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Burke-Drew-Jackson
Arizona Diamondbacks
Randy Johnson (W,4-1) 7600150 4.42
Chad Qualls 1100000 2.74
Brandon Lyon 1000020 1.80
WP - Randy Johnson (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Randy Johnson 98-67, Chad Qualls 14-10, Brandon Lyon 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Randy Johnson 8-7, Chad Qualls 2-1
Batters Faced - Randy Johnson 27, Chad Qualls 4, Brandon Lyon 3
Game Information
Attendance - 38793
Game Time - 2:30
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Joe West