ATLANTA (Ticker) --
has had several special moments throughout his career but none as perfect as this one.
Johnson became the oldest pitcher in major league baseball history to toss a perfect game as the
The 40-year-old lefthander tossed the 15th perfect game in modern major league history and the first since
did it for the
New York Yankees
on July 18, 1999 vs. Montreal. He was the first National Leaguer to do it since Montreal's
against Los Angeles on July 28, 1991.
Using pinpoint control with his flaming fastball and a nasty curveball, Johnson (4-4) struck out 13 for his 195th career double-digit strikeout game. He became the sixth pitcher to toss no-hitters in both leagues, twirling one for Seattle 14 years ago.
"The no-hitter I threw with Seattle was in 1990. I was far from perfect that day," said Johnson, who walked six in a 2-0 victory at the Kingdome vs. Detroit. "Fourteen years later, I've come a long way, knowing what I'm going to do."
Johnson threw 87 of 117 pitches for strikes and ended the most dominant performance of his career by striking out pinch hitter
on a fastball clocked at 98 miles per hour.
He pointed to the sky - an acknowledgement to his late father - and smiled broadly before being mobbed by his teammates and given a standing ovation from the crowd of 23,381 at Turner Field.
"I don't think my stuff has been any better than today in the past," Johnson said. "That's about as much emotion as I've had. Anybody that says (they don't know) what was going on is kidding you. I knew what was going on."
The fans at Turner Field began to sense they were witnessing history after the seventh inning. When J.D. Drew grounded out to end the eighth, they gave Johnson a standing ovation and following the final out chanted, "Randy, Randy."
The perfect game was the latest in a long line of accomplishments for Johnson, who made his major league debut in 1988 for the
, turned into one of the game's most dominating starters with Seattle and has won five Cy Young Awards.
"Everything he's done up to this point pales in comparison," Arizona manager
said. "This is one of those nights where he was on the top of his game. He was as good as it could possibly be. And that's the end result."
Johnson surpassed Young as the oldest pitcher to toss a perfect game. Young was 37 when he threw a perfect game as member of the Boston Americans on May 5, 1904 vs. the Philadelphia Athletics.
In this one, Johnson went to one three-ball count all night.
fouled off three consecutive 3-2 pitches before Johnson fanned him in the second.
It was the first no-hitter for the Diamondbacks, who entered the NL in 1998 and signed Johnson as a free agent in 1999.
"It's great for our organization," Arizona left fielder
said. "We've got a World Series, and now we've got a perfect game. It's phenomenal."
The Braves came close to getting a hit off Johnson twice in the fifth and once in the sixth.
In the fifth, Estrada lined a ball just foul down the left field line on a 2-2 pitch before flying out. Drew lined a 1-1 pitch to
in right to end the inning.
"J.D. Drew hit a good fastball down and in that Danny made a basket catch on," Johnson said.
The only other time Atlanta had a chance was in the sixth when Hampton (0-5) hit a slow roller to shortstop
. Cintron charged and threw to
at first, getting Hampton by a step.
"I went as fast as I could to get the ball," Cintron said. "It was real close. Hampton's a good hitter. You have to be ready. I was ready."
The offensive struggles continued for the Braves, who have struck out 42 times over their last three games. This game came just two days after Atlanta struck out 18 times and mustered just three hits against Milwaukee's
"It's embarrassing. I appreciate the game of baseball, and the history of the game, but this?" Estrada said. "This was a legitimate perfect game, anyway you slice it."
The Diamondbacks scored all the runs they needed on an RBI single by Cintron in the second and a run-scoring hit by
in the seventh.
Hampton also went the distance and allowed two runs and eight hits.
Atlanta was no-hit for the first time in over 25 years. The last pitcher to no-hit the Braves was
of Houston, who did it April 7, 1979.