Giants beat Diamondbacks despite Johnson's return


Randy Johnson's primary concern with his season debut: four walks.

Other than that, The Big Unit thinks he will soon get on track.

Johnson returned eight months after back surgery and didn't allow an earned run in five innings Monday night, settling down to finish with seven strikeouts before San Francisco rallied against Arizona's bullpen for a 5-4 victory over the Diamondbacks.

"I try to tell a lot of you, statistics aren't critical if you're not trying to make the team," Johnson said, comparing his debut in a way to a pitcher trying to find his groove early in spring training. "If you're a power pitcher, you're trying to find your mechanics and get your arm strength up. ... My endurance was fine. I didn't get tired."

The Giants loaded the bases in the seventh with no outs against reliever Chad Qualls (0-1), who allowed Ray Durham's tying RBI groundout followed by Bengie Molina's go-ahead sacrifice fly.

Keiichi Yabu (1-1), who pitched after undergoing dental surgery earlier in the day, worked two scoreless innings for his first win in nearly three years. He beat the Giants on May 20, 2005, with the Oakland Athletics. Yabu's victory also was the first by a Japanese pitcher for the Giants since Masanori Murakami on Sept. 30, 1965.

"I'm honored," Yabu said through a translator. "He is one of my friends and I'm glad I could win and have the same status."

In the only other NL game, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Los Angeles 6-4 at Dodger Stadium.

Conor Jackson drove in three runs for the Diamondbacks, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped Sunday against Colorado and lost consecutive games for only the second time this year.

Johnson walked slowly to the mound, head down and already holding a 2-0 lead after Jackson's two-run homer in the first. He was one of only a few players to wear short sleeves on a blustery Bay Area night, when the first-pitch temperature was 52 degrees.

Jackson also added an RBI double in the third and Justin Upton had a run-scoring single that inning.

Arizona got a scare in the bottom of the eighth when third baseman Mark Reynolds fell over the railing of a photo well while trying to catch Eugenio Velez's foul ball and banged his shin on a lower rail. His teammates ran to him and called for the trainer. Reynolds was slow getting up but stayed in the game.

Brian Wilson finished for his fourth save in five chances.

"It's definitely a big win. It's a building block for us," San Francisco's Aaron Rowand said. "We were down, we were up, we were down, we were up and we held onto it."

Johnson, who has 284 wins, gave up three hits and three unearned runs. It took him five pitches to throw his first strike after a four-pitch leadoff walk to Randy Winn. He struck out Rowand on an 83 mph slider, then gave up another four-pitch walk to Durham before retiring Rich Aurilia on a called third strike. Johnson got out of the inning on 18 pitches, eight for strikes.

"When I was in a situation to be able to put a hitter away I was able to do that," Johnson said. "The first couple innings the problem was finding myself in that situation. I was always pitching behind in the count and that's typically not what I do."

The Giants tied the game on Winn's two-run bloop single with two outs in the second, then Rowand followed with an RBI double to left and Johnson received a mound visit from pitching coach Bryan Price &

Johnson's pitch count already at 43.

He had not pitched in the big leagues since a 9-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers last June 28, before his August operation.

The 44-year-old left-hander topped out at 93 mph with his fastball. Manager Bob Melvin said beforehand he didn't have a pitch count for Johnson, who went 4-3 with a 3.81 ERA last season. He finished at 90 pitches with 49 strikes.

"All things considered, he got better as he went along. He was frustrated early with his command," Melvin said. "The mound was an issue. It was a joke. It was too high and the slopes were all wrong. Both teams pitched off the same mound and both teams complained about it. Even at the end he was throwing as hard as he was in the first inning. He never lost his velocity."

Johnson underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk each of the past two seasons. Last year, he had only 31/2 months to recover before spring training and believes he rushed back too soon. He also had back surgery in 1996.

San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez allowed four runs &

three earned &

and six hits in five innings.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 4

At Los Angeles, Nate McLouth hit a three-run homer off All-Star closer Takashi Saito with two outs in the ninth inning to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 13 games, and Pittsburgh beat the stunned Dodgers for its fourth straight victory.

Saito (1-1) was trying to save the win for countryman Hiroki Kuroda, who made his Dodger Stadium debut. But the right-hander gave up a one-out single to Jose Bautista and a two-out single to pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche before McLouth hit his second homer this season.

McLouth is one of three players to hit safely in each of his team's first 13 games this year, along with Kansas City's Billy Butler and the Dodgers' James Loney.

Bautista hit a two-run homer for the Pirates. Tyler Yates (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Matt Capps worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

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