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06/06/07 3:33 AM ET
Young delivers win with walk-off
Johnson moves into second place on all-time strikeout list
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Chris Young had struggled all night as he strolled to the plate in a tie game in the bottom of the 10th. The center fielder's stat line read 0-for-4 with a strikeout, and Giants pitcher Kevin Correia had retired the first four batters he faced. "A lot of the coaches and the guys were still behind my back and said, 'Just keep grinding. Even though you had a bad day doesn't mean you can't come through in the end,'" Young said. Young did exactly that, crushing a fastball 425 feet from Correia (1-3) to left-center field, sending the D-backs home with a 4-3 walk-off win over San Francisco on Tuesday in front of 25,848 at Chase Field. Young's first Major League walk-off homer made sure the night Randy Johnson passed Roger Clemens for second on the all-time strikeout list ended in a good way for the home team. It also clinched Arizona's 10th win in 11 games, leaving the D-backs tied with San Diego for first place in the division. As Young strode around the bases, while his teammates ran to greet him at home plate, he said it felt nothing like game-winners he has hit in the Minor Leagues. "You just feel like you're floating on air," he said. "As you round first base, you start to look inside the dugout and see all your guys running out there to congratulate you at home, and there's not a better feeling, hitting a home run like that, or robbing a home run to save the game, just anything you can do to help the team makes you feel good when your teammates are right there behind you." Young has been dealing with a groin injury lately that has caused him to miss eight games the past couple weeks. In the early going of his comeback from the injury, he felt mentally tentative on the field, protecting the injury instead of going all out. "He's been struggling with his groin a little bit, which can affect your hitting a little bit, too," manager Bob Melvin said, "but it looked to me like he was running a lot better, he got down the line a lot better, and when your legs are underneath you and you can use your legs at the plate as well, you square the ball up like that and it goes, and he's a guy that uses his legs very well." Young's shot might not have been the game-winner if not for a play made by pitcher Brandon Lyon (4-2) in the top half of the inning. With Rich Aurilia at second and one out, Ray Durham blooped a ball to left that went in and out of left fielder Eric Byrnes' glove in a diving attempt to make the play. Aurilia held up while waiting to see if Byrnes would catch the ball before breaking for third. Lyon noticed there was no one covering third base on the play and sprinted there to receive a throw from Byrnes. Lyon's body reached third before Aurilia, blocking him from reaching the bag and giving him time to tag the runner for the second out of the inning. "My first thought obviously was I thought Byrnsie had caught the ball," Lyon said, "and once I saw the ball loose and nobody at third, I just started running there, and after that it was all reaction. "I guess when you get hit around like that, you have to do something to help the team win." Said Johnson: "Most pitchers just aren't thinking about where they need to be at the time. That's something he got a little razzing about, but he literally probably saved the ballgame right there." That's because Bengie Molina followed with a deep fly ball to center field that ended the inning. "It's a whole different ballgame if he's on third base right there, so it ends up being a great play," Melvin said. "Do you want to see your pitcher blocking third base and flipping guys? No, but at that particular time in the game, it worked for us." Johnson took care of the first six innings of the game, allowing just a two-run home run to Dan Ortmeier that Melvin said got a little too much of the plate. In all, he gave up just the two runs on seven hits while striking out eight to move into sole possession of second place on the all-time strikeouts list with 4,605. Johnson also walked one, his first fee pass since May 9, which spans three previous starts. "I've been on a mini-roll I think," Johnson said. "The last couple starts, I've been pitching fairly well. I haven't been walking anybody, just trying to get ahead of hitters, and if I'm going to get hurt, it's going to be by multiple hits in an innings, not walking people and putting extra people on base." Although the D-backs blew the win for Johnson by allowing a run in the eighth, once again Arizona used a quality start and clutch hitting to grind out the squad's 16th one-run victory of the season. "The one [about] thing playing as many one-run games as we've had this year and having success in them [is that it] makes you feel like, when it's close at the end you feel like you're going to win," Melvin said. "These guys have all the confidence in the world that, once we get it back in our dugout, we're going to win."
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.