WASHINGTON — Randy Johnson had to wait a while for his shot at 300 wins. The crowd was small, and the weather was wet. His performance, however, was more than worthy of the occasion.
The Big Unit hit the big number on Thursday, becoming the 24th pitcher to reach one of baseball’s most revered milestones. Johnson tossed two-hit ball over six innings, leading the San Francisco Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Washington Nationals in the first game of a doubleheader.
Johnson allowed only an unearned run and threw 50 of his 78 pitches for strikes. He faced four batters above the minimum and got spotless relief from his bullpen.
He left leading 2-1 and nearly wound up with a no-decision. The Nationals loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Adam Dunn was called out on strikes with a full count on a knee-high fastball from reliever Brian Wilson.
Some of the few thousand fans who witnessed Johnson’s victory — the Nationals have trouble drawing a crowd for anything these days — chanted “Randy! Randy!” in the bottom of the ninth. When the game was over, he gave hugs to teenage son Tanner, who served as a Giants batboy, as well as all of his teammates. Johnson then tipped his hat to the cheering crowd before entering the dugout.
Johnson (5-4) became the sixth left-hander to win 300, and the first pitcher to do it on his first try since Tom Seaver in 1985.
The 45-year-old Johnson is the second-oldest pitcher to reach the milestone. Knuckleballer Phil Niekro was 46 when he won his 300th with the New York Yankees in 1985.