On a night when Randy Johnson wasn’t at his best, he was still good enough.
Johnson pitched seven strong innings in his final tuneup before the All-Star Game, Edgar Martinez and Jose Cruz hit two-run homers and Paul Sorrento a solo as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Anaheim Angels 7-3 Friday night.
“I definitely didn’t have good stuff tonight, but that made it that much more important to get out of the big inning because I couldn’t reach back and try to blow the ball by somebody,” Johnson said. “I actually had to pitch out there.”
Johnson (12-2), expected to start for the American League in Cleveland on Tuesday night, struck out three of his first six batters but had just one more the rest of the way. He gave up two runs and six hits, while walking four.
“People said, ‘Well, you didn’t strike out very many people,’ but that’s what I’m talking about right there,” Johnson said. “That saves me from throwing a lot of pitches. I would much rather get a double-play ball than have to strike out two guys.
“My back is fine and my body is fine, but my arm is a little tired,” he said. “I’m hitting a little wall right now with my arm, but I guess it’s happening at a good time because we’ve got a little bit of a break so I can recoup …”
Seattle scored four runs in the fourth inning off knuckleballer Dennis Springer (4-3). He gave up six runs and seven hits in five innings, walking three.
“Springer’s been tough on us,” Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. “That knuckleball for the first few innings was really dancing.”
After Martinez walked and was forced at second by Paul Sorrento, who reached on a fielder’s choice, Sorrento moved to third on Jay Buhner’s single. Russ Davis’ sacrifice fly scored Sorrento.
Buhner scored from second when Dan Wilson’s two-out single dropped in right field. Cruz hit his ninth homer into right field on a 3-1 count.
“They just keep running guys up there who can hit the ball out of the ballpark and drive in runs,” Anaheim manager Terry Collins said. “They’ve got a very good team. That’s why you’ve got to execute and do a lot of things right.”
Anaheim got two runs back in the bottom of the fourth on Tim Salmon’s 13th homer and Darin Erstad’s ninth. It made the rookie the first left-handed hitter to homer off Johnson this season.
“I’ve never seen him pitch this way,” Angels center fielder Tony Phillips said of Johnson. “Obviously, he was struggling, and I thought we had a good opportunity to get him. But then he turned into a pitcher on us. He was mixing up his pitches well and made pitches when he had to. That’s what makes him so tough. He’s awesome.”
Seattle took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on Martinez’s 16th homer, a 427-foot drive to left.
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