ATLANTA -- Arizona's Randy Johnson became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game, retiring all 27 hitters to lead the Diamondbacks over the Atlanta Braves, 2-0, last night.
The 40-year-old lefthander struck out 13 and went to three balls on just one hitter -- Johnny Estrada in the second inning. Estrada fouled off three straight full-count pitches before going down swinging.
"A game like this was pretty special," the five-time Cy Young Award winner said. "It doesn't come along very often."
It was the 17th perfect game in major league history, the 15th since the modern era began in 1900, and the first since the New York Yankees' David Cone against Montreal on July 18, 1999.
Cy Young had been the oldest to throw a perfect game, doing it in 1904 at age 37.
It was the second no-hitter of Johnson's career. The other was for Seattle against Detroit on June 2, 1990.
Appropriately, Johnson struck out the final batter, pinch hitter Eddie Perez. The Big Unit pumped his fist and raised his glove in the air. Catcher Robby Hammock arrived at the mound with the ball, giving his pitcher a big hug. Within seconds, he was mobbed by the rest of his teammates.
He became only the fifth pitcher to throw no-hitters in both the National and American leagues, joining Young, Jim Bunning, Hideo Nomo, and Nolan Ryan. The crowd of 23,381 at Turner Field sensed history in the making when J.D. Drew grounded out to end the eighth. The Atlanta fans gave Johnson (4-4) a standing ovation as he walked off the mound, then another when he batted in the ninth.
While the Braves hit several balls hard off Johnson, the closest thing to a hit was a slow roller by Johnson's counterpart, Mike Hampton, in the sixth. Shortstop Alex Cintron scooped up the ball and threw out Hampton by a half-step.
Cintron also was the offensive hero, driving in Arizona's first run and scoring the other. Johnson threw the first no-hitter in Seattle history and now he's pulled off the same feat for a different team.
This was the first no-hitter for Arizona, which joined the major leagues in 1998.
The Braves, who started a makeshift infield because of injuries to Marcus Giles and Rafael Furcal, were no-hit for the first time in 25 years. Ken Forsch of Houston did it on April 7, 1979.
In two straight games, shorthanded Atlanta has endured dominating pitching performances. Milwaukee's Ben Sheets struck out 18 Braves Sunday. Now this -- the rarest of pitching feats.
Johnson seemed to get stronger as the night went on. His fastball was clocked at 98 miles per hour in the late innings, and Andruw Jones lost his bat trying to catch up with a heater in the eighth.
Johnson dominated the Braves with two pitches, augmenting his fastball with a devastating slider. Hampton (0-5) pitched his best game of the season, allowing eight hits.Arizona went ahead, 1-0, after Hampton retired the first two hitters in the second. Danny Bautista singled to right and came all the way around to score on Cintron's double to the gap in left-center. The Diamondbacks added another run in the seventh, this time set up by Cintron's double down the left-field line. With two outs, Chad Tracy lined an RBI single up the middle.