D-backs fall as Big Unit's woes continue
Johnson loses sixth consecutive start as rally falls short
PHOENIX -- After Randy Johnson lost his sixth consecutive start, it was clear that he knows what his problem is -- it's just something that's out of his control."Velocity is a luxury. I don't have the same velocity. Location is a necessity, and I haven't had any of that," the 44-year-old Johnson said, after allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings -- his shortest outing of the year. He allowed two home runs to Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy and another to reserve infielder Joe Dillon, his first of the season as the Brewers rolled to an 8-6 victory over the D-backs. The D-backs have fallen back to .500 (42-42), but still sit in first place. The Dodgers won in Houston, so Arizona's lead is down to a slim 2 1/2 games after owning a 6 1/2-game lead on April 28. Since winning career game No. 288 on May 18, Johnson (4-7) has gone seven starts without a win. He had some good starts in that span -- most notably three games in which he allowed two runs or fewer -- but for the most part, he has struggled mightily with command. On Tuesday, he saw his season ERA skyrocket to 5.46. Johnson threw 93 pitches in the effort. "It's been a month of poor games," Johnson said. "Obviously, I'm very much aware of that. I'm disappointed. Anything good that seems to come out of the game, it seems there's not enough of it to build off of, so I'm a little disappointed. That goes without saying. You just try to regroup and look forward to your next start." The Big Unit left the game with the D-backs trailing 7-1, but Arizona kept clawing back off Brewers starter Jeff Suppan (5-6) and the Milwaukee bullpen. The D-backs staged a rally in the bottom of the eighth, but catcher Miguel Montero was robbed of an extra-base hit when first baseman Mike Rivera made a diving catch, then tagged first to double up Chris Young and end the threat. "The way we came back, some of the balls we hit pretty hard there toward the end of the game, they just ended up finding some gloves," said D-backs manager Bob Melvin. "That was a really good comeback effort by us. We came up a little bit short, but not due to a lack of good at-bats or a lack of good relief pitching." The Brewers got out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning and added another run off Johnson in the fourth. The D-backs scored a run in the first and two more each in the fourth and the fifth. Conor Jackson led the offensive charge, going 3-for-4 with his eighth homer and three RBIs. Third baseman Bill Hall made a highlight-reel play when he robbed Augie Ojeda of extra bases in the sixth inning. "It was at the point where it was like, 'You've got to be kidding me that they're making these plays,'" said third baseman Mark Reynolds, who went 2-for-4 and was banged up due to several line drives to the hot corner. Connor Robertson, who was called up to fill the roster spot of Eric Byrnes, made his D-backs debut, throwing three innings of one-run ball in relief. Leo Rosales and Doug Slaten followed with 2 1/3 shutout innings. "We gave ourselves a chance to win all night," Reynolds said. "We couldn't ask for anything more."
Mike Ritter is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.