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Johnson Is Dominant

April 02, 2002|From Associated Press

PHOENIX — Somewhere in the desert, Randy Johnson must have discovered the Fountain of Youth.

The Big Unit, winner of three Cy Young Awards in three seasons with Arizona, threw a six-hitter as the Diamondbacks opened defense of their World Series championship by defeating the San Diego Padres, 2-0, on Monday.

With a fastball that topped out at 100 mph, the 38-year-old left-hander struck out eight and walked one to defeat San Diego's Kevin Jarvis.

"You saw his velocity up on the board," San Diego's Phil Nevin said. "Obviously, he hasn't lost anything. He's not old. He's getting better with age."

Mark Grace homered and made several tough plays at first, and Danny Bautista doubled in a run.

"Overall, I feel extremely good about the way I pitched," Johnson said, "and the way everybody played."

When Johnson last left the mound at Bank One Ballpark on Nov. 4, he had come out of the bullpen to get the last four outs in Game 7 of the World Series against the New York Yankees. Then he watched from the dugout as Arizona rallied with two runs in the ninth to win, 3-2.

In a 30-minute pregame ceremony in front of a sellout crowd of 47,025, the World Series championship banner was unveiled high above the swimming pool in right-center field.

Johnson earned his 31st career shutout and 80th complete game. Johnson, 5-0 in 10 opening-day starts, got his first shutout in an opener, throwing 127 pitches.

"He's a freak of nature," Grace said. "It's a tribute to the shape he's in and the drive he has. He may be another Nolan Ryan and pitch until he's 45 because he's better now than he ever has been."

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