Johnson outdueled by Wakefield
D-backs' offense has no answers for Boston knuckleballer
BOSTON -- The first sign that Wednesday was going to be a long night for the D-backs came in the early afternoon, when broadcaster Tom Candiotti threw an early batting-practice session to try to get the hitters ready for facing knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
There were some well-struck balls, but there was also plenty of flailing and head-shaking.
There would be more to come once the game started, as Wakefield and the Red Sox rode the knuckleball express to a 5-0 win over the D-backs in front of a sellout crowd of 37,924 at Fenway Park.
"It's frustrating," manager Bob Melvin said. "You know you're going to get a good long look at the ball. You know what you're going to get, for the most part. It's just getting a good ball to hit and trying to square it up from a guy you haven't seen too many times."
And if the D-backs don't see Wakefield again, it will be just fine by them.
In addition to the knuckler, Wakefield mixed in some 75-mph fastballs and some 57-mph curves as he held the D-backs to just two hits over seven innings.
"He threw quite a few fastballs," outfielder Chris Young said. "He had that big curveball that he was throwing as well, so it's not like it was just one pitch you had to be ready for. He keeps you off balance, because even though the fastball is 75 mph, it still looks a lot harder. And his curveball was tough for us to lay off of today."
Boston added to the Arizona hitters' misery by following the soft-tossing Wakefield with Manny Delcarmen and his 98-mph fastball in the eighth.
The D-backs did manage to make things interesting in the ninth off Craig Hansen, loading the bases with two outs, but Jonathan Papelbon struck out Chad Tracy to end the game.
After being swept in Minnesota to start the trip, the D-backs squeaked out a win in the first game of the series with the Red Sox before giving up a lead in the eighth inning on Tuesday night. The 1-5 mark on the trip has left them just one game above the .500 mark, quite a difference from the end of April, when they were 20-8.
"So far [it's been frustrating]," Young said of the trip. "But you know, we've still got three left in Florida. We came in and won the first one, and [took a] tough loss yesterday and they just beat us today, so we have to take the positive from it and keep working."
The D-backs got a solid performance from Randy Johnson, who hit 94 mph on the radar gun in allowing just two runs in six innings.
"My location got better as the game progressed," Johnson said. "I gave up a lot of hits, but I was able to get out of any inning that may have been big. You start dissecting these games, and you look at where the mistake was."
Boston's first run came in the second inning, when Brandon Moss' groundout to second base scored Mike Lowell. Those two were right in the middle of the action in the sixth, when Moss' sacrifice fly scored Lowell to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
Johnson's night was done after seven innings and 109 pitches.
"I thought from the third or fourth inning on, he got better," Melvin said. "His velocity picked up. He looked like he was looser for some reason. The ball was jumping out of his hand better."
Johnson, who is stuck on 288 career wins, has not won since May 18 and is anxious to turn the calendar to July after an 0-5 June.
"I don't believe I have any more starts this month," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting into a new month and hopefully having my luck change a little bit."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.