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World Series 2001
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10/18/2001 03:18 AM ET
Unit gives D-Backs jump on Braves
By Ken Gurnick
Johnson dominated the Braves, allowing three hits and fanning 10.
Game highlights: 56k | 300k
Big Unit's strikeouts: 56k | 300k
Sanders' RBI single: 56k | 300k
Big Unit allows three hits: 56k | 300k
NLCS audio report
Postgame press conferences
Transcript of Johnson's press conference
Box score

PHOENIX -- For the past week, Randy Johnson has dealt with the doubters, fielding questions about his seven-game, postseason losing streak while watching Curt Schilling twice steal the big-game spotlight.

No more.

Johnson reminded the Atlanta Braves and the rest of the world Tuesday that he can be the most dominating pitcher in the sport, and not just in June or August. He matched Schilling and outpitched Greg Maddux with a three-hit, 2-0 shutout win in Game 1 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

And he conceded that personal competition with Schilling is bringing out the best in both.

Braves 0 3 1
Diamondbacks 2 8 0
WP: Randy Johnson (1-1)
LP: Greg Maddux (0-1)
SV: None

HR: None

"Curt's been real complimentary to me, saying I've raised the bar for him," said Johnson. "When we were celebrating the other night, I told him that watching him pitch those two games raised the bar for me in the postseason."

Johnson nudged the bar up another peg, striking out 11 and walking one. He allowed a single off the glove of leaping third baseman Matt Williams in the first inning, then not another until a two-out uprising by the Braves in the ninth that brought the go-ahead run to the plate.

Julio Franco and Chipper Jones singled, but with runners on the corners, Johnson's 125th pitch fanned Brian Jordan and ended the game.

"Everybody has talked about his post-season woes and this was the only game of the day and it's on national TV and other players are watching and I think Randy just took it as a personal challenge," said Luis Gonzalez, who drove in the second run. "He just stepped up."

The Braves, losers of six of eight to Arizona this year, are in a little historical trouble. The Game 1 winner has won the last eight NLCS. With Schilling coming off a pair of spectacularly overpowering victories in the Division Series and scheduled to pitch Game 3, Wednesday's Game 2 becomes almost a must-win for the Braves.

"Yeah, I guess so," said Braves starter Tom Glavine, who opposes Arizona's Miguel Batista Wednesday.

Playing in front of a surprising number of empty seats at Bank One Ballpark -- it holds 49,000 but drew only 37,729 -- the Diamondbacks Tuesday provided Johnson RBI singles by one-time Brave Reggie Sanders and Gonzalez, scoring Craig Counsell both times. Johnson needed nothing else.

The only Atlanta hit in the first eight innings was a two-out line drive in the first by Chipper Jones down the third-base line. Williams leapt as high as he could and got a glove on the ball to knock it down, but his throw to first was late.

Johnson got Jordan on a foul pop to end the inning and came out for the second looking unhittable. He opened the second by striking out Andruw Jones and proceeded to mow down 20 consecutive batters, striking out eight of his total of 11.

Maddux was good, but was no match for the dominating Johnson.
"Every time he goes out there, he's a no-hitter waiting to happen," Williams said.

The string was snapped when Johnson walked Bernard Gilkey on four pitches in the eighth, immediately after Andruw Jones struck out of the third time. The wildness was temporary, as Johnson got Rey Sanchez to fly out.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox summoned Javy Lopez to hit for Paul Bako. Lopez, out since Sept. 30 with a sprained ankle, was added to the roster based on a workout before the game. Of course, Lopez didn't face Johnson in that workout.

He was facing him now. Lopez swung through a slider on the first pitch. The second pitch was a perfect fastball for a ball, the third a slider that Lopez missed and the fourth a slider in the dirt blocked by catcher Damian Miller. The 2-2 pitch was a wicked, wicked slider that Lopez barely tipped, but Miller held on.

Arizona Manager Bob Brenly had Byung-Hyun Kim warming up in the eighth and ninth innings, but that didn't mean Johnson wasn't in there for the duration.

"We thought about taking him out," Brenly said, "but nobody on the bench wanted to tell Randy he was coming out of the game. That kind of ended that."

Johnson won 21 games during the season, but Brenly said this was one of the best because he used three pitches economically, making only 85 pitches through seven innings before adding 40 over the final two.

"We thought about taking him out but nobody on the bench wanted to tell Randy he was coming out of the game. That kind of ended that."

--D-Backs Manager Bob Brenly

Despite Jones' first-inning liner, Miller knew immediately that Johnson brought his "A" game.

"I come in the dugout yelling at the guys, 'Look out, he's got his good stuff today,' " Miller said. "I told them in the first inning."

But Miller said he's seen Johnson better, that while his slider was nasty he had some trouble spotting his fastball early.

Don't tell that to Chipper Jones.

"He threw a fastball by me that I didn't see," said Jones. "I looked up on the board and it said 99 (mph). I said, my ass 99."

For all the attention Johnson gets lighting up the radar gun, his success Tuesday was more the result of the slider and his mental approach. Teammates said he showed up for work focused and relaxed. He appeared in control of his complex mechanics, as well as his emotions, and in synch with catcher Miller, who caught a flawless game.

By the fourth, Johnson was able to spot his fastball outside nearly as well as inside. With the slider tying hitters in knots, there was nowhere for Braves hitters to hide.

His greatest threat was leadoff hitter Marcus Giles, who twice drove Sanders toward the right-field fence to haul in drives off a fastball and a hanging splitter, a relatively new pitch. Johnson also got a nice defensive play from centerfielder Steve Finley, who ran down a drive to left-center by Jordan with two out in the fourth.

Arizona's offensive strategy was copied from its two wins against Maddux earlier in the year -- be aggressive early in the count and try to take pitches back through the middle.

   Randy Johnson   /   P
Height: 6'10"
Weight: 225
Bats/Throws: R/L

More info:
Player page
D-Backs site
The results were mixed. The Diamondbacks scored four batters into the game on a single to center by Sanders, the clean-up hitter du jour, one of four Arizona hits in the first two innings. The key to the rally was an error by second baseman Giles, who tried to backhand and short-hop Gonzalez's hit-and-run bouncer up the middle, thinking double-play but coming up empty.

That up-the-middle strategy also played into the Gold Glove of Maddux, who started double-plays in the first and second innings after snagging sharp one-hoppers from Mark Grace and Finley.

Arizona's second run was a two-out production. In the fifth, Maddux fell behind Counsell, who drove a 3-2 pitch into the left-center gap. Andruw Jones raced over and made a layout dive, but just couldn't get his glove to the ball, which bounced to the fence.

Counsell was thinking three, but when Jones scrambled to retrieve it, Counsell slammed on the brakes. Jones' throw missed two cutoff men and found its way into third baseman Chipper Jones' glove on one bounce.

Counsell's thoughtful base-running paid off when Gonzalez cashed him in by muscling an inside pitch for a single to right, giving Johnson an extra run to work with.

Otherwise, in this matchup of Cy Young winners, Maddux pitched well enough to lose because his offense didn't score. Johnson knows the feeling.

"They're all going to talk about Randy for sure, and well they should," said Cox. "But Greg was really good."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for

Box score

Diamondbacks 2, Braves 0

at Bank One Ballpark


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Braves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
Diamondbacks 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 x 2 8 0
Marcus Giles - 2B 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Julio Franco - 1B 4 0 1 0 1 0 1 .250 .250
Jason Marquis - PR 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - -
Chipper Jones - 3B 4 0 2 0 2 0 1 .500 .500
Brian Jordan - RF 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000
Andruw Jones - CF 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000
Bernard Gilkey - LF 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .000
Rey Sanchez - SS 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000
Paul Bako - C 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
a-Javy Lopez - PH-C 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000
Greg Maddux - P 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000
Mike Remlinger - P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - -
Steve Karsay - P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - -
b-Mark DeRosa - PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Totals 30 0 3 0 3 1 11 - -

a-struck out for Bako in the 8th; b-grounded to first for Karsay in the 9th.

Runners left in scoring position, 2 out
- Jordan 1.
Team LOB
- 4.

E - Giles (1, ground ball).
2 (Maddux-Sanchez-Franco 2).

Diamondbacks AB R H RBI TB BB K AVG SLG
Tony Womack - SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000
Craig Counsell - 2B 4 2 2 0 3 0 1 .500 .750
Luis Gonzalez - LF 4 0 1 1 1 0 1 .250 .250
Reggie Sanders - RF 3 0 2 1 2 1 1 .667 .667
Mark Grace - 1B 4 0 1 0 1 0 0 .250 .250
Matt Williams - 3B 4 0 1 0 1 0 1 .250 .250
Steve Finley - CF 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .000
Damian Miller - C 3 0 1 0 1 0 1 .333 .333
Randy Johnson - P 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000
Totals 31 2 8 2 9 2 7 - -
2B - Counsell (1, Maddux).
- Sanders (2), Gonzalez (2).
2-out RBI
- Gonzalez.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out
- Miller 1, M Williams 1.
- Grace, Finley.
Team LOB
- 7.
Greg Maddux (L, 0-1) 7 6 2 2 2 5 94 30-64 28 2.57
Mike Remlinger 0.2 2 0 0 0 2 14 6-8 4 0.00
Steve Karsay 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 5 2-3 1 0.00
Finley (by Maddux).
Ground balls-fly balls:
Maddux 14-2; Remlinger 0-0; Karsay 0-1.
Diamondbacks IP H R ER BB K PIT B-S BFP ERA
Randy Johnson (W, 1-1) 9 3 0 0 1 11 125 38-87 31 0.00
Ground balls-fly balls:
Johnson 6-10.
Umpires: Jerry Crawford (HP) Jeff Kellogg (1B) Angel Hernandez (2B) Mike Reilly (3B) Gerry Davis (LF) Tim McClelland (RF)
Time: 2:44
Attendance: 37,729
Weather: Indoors