Beckett, bullpen have rough night against D'backs

PHOENIX (sun-sentinel) - Truth be told, the Marlins probably didn't count on scoring five runs off Randy Johnson on Wednesday night. They had faced him 11 times and gotten more than two once.

Chances are they didn't figure on Josh Beckett giving up a career-high eight either.

The Marlins drifted a little farther out of contention, dropping an 11-6 decision to a Diamondbacks team that had one double-digit run total in its past 77 games. Coupled with the Braves' victory in Houston, the Marlins' fourth consecutive loss dropped them seven games out of first place.

They have lost 11 in a row and 12 of their past 13 against last-place teams. A loss in today's series finale would drop them three games under .500 for the first time this season.

Behind Roberto Alomar's four hits, the Diamondbacks scored more runs for Johnson (11-9) than they did in his previous five starts combined (10). Before Wednesday, they hadn't logged home victories in back-to-back nights since June 30-July 1.

The Marlins made it semi-respectable with a four-run sixth that Paul Lo Duca initiated with a leadoff double to right. Miguel Cabrera drove him in with an RBI single, and three batters later Alex Gonzalez sent Johnson's first offering into the seats beyond the left-center-field wall with two on.

Two homers shy of matching last season's career-high total (18), Gonzalez was 4 for 19 (.211) with six strikeouts against Johnson entering that at-bat. Eight of his homers have come with men on base, including five three-run shots.

Johnson made it through the sixth and called it a night after 113 pitches. The five earned runs were the most he had allowed since a June 18 home loss to the Devil Rays. It was also only the second time in 11 starts Johnson did not total six or more strikeouts.

After giving up an RBI single -base hit to Juan Encarnacion in the second, Johnson retired 11 straight in a row.

Beckett's evening was over after four innings and 80 pitches. He has now gone five consecutive starts in which he has failed to complete more than four innings.

Until Wednesday, Beckett had not given up more than seven runs in any of his 62 career starts. Though Beckett matched his season-high with nine hits allowed, his defense didn't help.

Three of the Diamondbacks' eight runs off Beckett were unearned because of a pair of errors by first baseman Jeff Conine in the second. With a runner on second, no outs, and his team already down 2-0, Conine misplayed a Juan Brito grounder to put runners at the corners.

Johnson bunted to Conine, who almost took off Beckett's head with his errant throw to second trying to initiate a double-play. Gonzalez was unable to secure the ball on the short hop, loading the bases for Quinton McCracken.

McCracken doubled in two runs, and two more scored on Shea Hillenbrand's two-out blooper behind first base.

Wednesday marked only the second time since July 1 that the Diamondbacks scored four or more runs in an inning.

In two starts since coming off the disabled list, Beckett is 0-2 with an 11.57 ERA.

The Marlins will try to avoid a season-high six-game road losing streak this afternoon.

By Juan C. Rodriguez
Aug 5, 2004
© Copyright 2004-2005

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