Rookie sensation Dontrelle Willis achieved two impressive feats Wednesday night. First he helped the Florida Marlins fill Pro Player Stadium, and then he beat Randy Johnson.
Willis had a little help from Arizona second baseman Junior Spivey, who made an errant throw that allowed two runs to score in the sixth inning. That was the difference as Willis and the surging Marlins defeated Johnson and the slumping Diamondbacks, 3-1.
The showdown of showcase left-handers drew 37,735, the Marlins’ largest turnout since July 14, 2001. Nearly half the tickets were purchased Wednesday in anticipation of a pitching gem, and that’s what the crowd got.
“If you’re not a fan of baseball watching that game, you’re not going to be a fan,” Willis said. “It was just fun to watch.”
The crowd saw the Marlins win their sixth in a row and complete their first series sweep of Arizona, which has lost nine consecutive road games, a team record.
In a battle of the ages, the 21-year-old Willis (10-2) gave up four hits in seven innings and struck out eight. The Diamondbacks’ only run came on a home run by Alex Cintron, the game’s second batter.
The 39-year-old Johnson, making only his third start since sitting out 2 1/2 months after arthroscopic knee surgery, was almost as good. Johnson (1-4) gave up four hits in six innings, and both unearned runs in the sixth. He had four strikeouts.
Arizona led, 1-0, when Florida loaded the bases with one out. Miguel Cabrera hit a grounder through Johnson’s legs to Spivey, who appeared to have an easy double play.
Spivey stepped on the bag but threw low and wide to first base for Arizona’s third error. The ball got away from first baseman Shea Hillenbrand, and two runs scored.
“One mistake changed the outcome of the ballgame,” Spivey said. “That was a mistake that shouldn’t happen.”
Johnson lost for the first time in 10 starts against the Marlins.