Originally created 10/17/01

Braves shut out in Game 1



PHOENIX -- With icy calm and magnificent heat, Randy Johnson buried his reputation as a postseason flop.

In a matchup of pitchers who together have seven Cy Young Awards and 457 victories, Johnson threw a three-hit masterpiece as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat Greg Maddux and the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Tuesday in Game 1 of the National League championship series.

Johnson struck out 11 and walked one to snap his major league-record seven-game losing streak in the postseason.

Chipper Jones, a longtime nemesis of Johnson, had two of Atlanta's hits to improve to 11-for-25 with six homers in his career of the Big Unit. Jones barely beat out a sharp line drive off the glove of a leaping Matt Williams at third base with two outs in the first inning.

After that, Johnson retired 20 in a row before walking Bernard Gilkey on four pitches with one out in the eighth.

Johnson was one out away from pitching the eighth one-hitter in postseason history when Julio Franco and Jones singled to put runners at first and third - Atlanta's first runner to get into scoring position all game.

Johnson recovered to strike out Brian Jordan to end it.

Craig Counsell, one of the surprise heroes of Arizona's nail-biting division series triumph over St. Louis, was 2-for-3 and scored twice - on RBI singles by Luis Gonzalez and Reggie Sanders.

Maddux was no slouch. He allowed just two runs and six hits in seven innings, but his effort was lost in the 6-foot-10 Johnson's shadow.

Johnson hadn't won in the playoffs since beating the Yankees twice in the 1995 AL division series for Seattle. He had lost his last seven decisions, including a 4-1 defeat in Game 2 of the first round against the Cardinals.

Teammate Curt Schilling had been the big-game ace against St. Louis, winning 1-0 and 2-1 in two complete games.

Usually a grimacing, shouting portrait of intensity, Johnson was a picture of gum-chewing calm except for a few bursts of emotions.

He had two eight-pitch innings and one seven-pitch innings, far out of character for a hurler whose pitch count normally soars above 100 long before the ninth inning.

Atlanta's closest calls in the first eight innings were a pair of long outs to right field by leadoff hitter Marcus Giles. Sanders caught the first just in front of the fence to lead off the game and the second in front of the yellow home run line atop the fence to end the sixth.

Johnson appeared to yell, "No more!" at himself as he walked off the field.

A crowd of just 37,729 - 12,000 short of a sellout - watched the first postseason matchup of 200-game career winners in 23 years.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it happened twice in 1978 - Steve Carlton of Philadelphia against Don Sutton of Los Angeles in Game 3 of the NLCS, and Sutton against Catfish Hunter of the Yankees in New York's clinching Game 6 of the World Series.

The Diamondbacks scratched out a run in the first and another in the fifth against Maddux, who is 0-3 against Arizona this season and had lost his only other showdown with Johnson back in 1998.

Arizona gave Johnson a rare early lead. Counsell singled with one out in the first inning, then Gonzalez reached safely when his grounder scooted under the glove of the second baseman Giles for an error.

Sanders, 7-for-17 in the postseason, lined a single up the middle to score Counsell and make it 1-0. The scorekeeper ruled it was an earned run.

With two outs in the fifth, Counsell doubled just past the outstretched glove of a diving Andruw Jones in center.

The Diamondbacks got four hits off Maddux in the first two innings, but two double plays, both started by the Atlanta pitcher, minimized the damage.

Notes: The winner of the NLCS Game 1 has advanced to the World Series each of the last eight seasons. ... Javy Lopez, out for nine games with a sprained left ankle, pinch-hit for Paul Bako with two outs in the eight. He struck out, then caught the bottom of the inning. ... Pitchers on the two staffs have won a combined 10 Cy Youngs. ... The Diamondbacks have yet to sell out a home game in these playoffs.