Color him the Orioles' stopper. Even when his pitching is hardly a thing of beauty, Dave Johnson often gets the desired result.
Of Johnson's 19 major-league victories, 13 have come after Orioles defeats. He is 13-3 in that respect, including 11-1 this year and last.
Johnson was tattoed for 10 hits and five runs in six innings by the Milwaukee Brewers last night, but he still picked up the 13-5 victory that ended the club's losing streak at two.
"That's Davey Johnson," manager John Oates said. "He struggled at the start because he was rushing, but then he settled down and kept us right in there."
Johnson's only other win this season was April 12 when he pitched the leadoff leg of a four-hit shutout at Texas.
"Whether we won or lost the night before doesn't play a part in my thinking when I go out there," said the Overlea High alum. "But as Dwight Evans told me, it might be nice at the end of the year to look back at it."
When he was fully dressed and ready to leave the clubhouse, Johnson still was irked by plate umpire Derryl Cousins' calls. He attributed his shabby pitching line to Cousins' reluctance to call a strike a strike.
"I made pretty good pitches that I didn't feel were borderline," Johnson said. "I thought I had guys out -- then I had to throw another pitch and they'd get a base hit.
"I know doggone well I threw better than that. It's hard enough to get major-league hitters out on three strikes. It's really tough when they get four. The strike zone wasn't big, but I'll have to say he was consistent about it. It was non-existent."
Cousins was adamant in his refusal to discuss balls and strikes, sending word that it was none of the media's business. John Oates was ejected for the first time in his tenure as Orioles manager for questioning Cousins' conception of the strike zone.
Johnson was particularly annoyed by a call on the Brewers' B.J. Surhoff in the fourth inning. Given what Johnson considered a fourth strike, Surhoff pounded a triple and came in moments later with Milwaukee's second run.
"I asked the umpire where the pitch right before that was and he said, 'High,' " Johnson said. "In the back of my mind I had to laugh at that. If I had said any more, he would have made the plate even smaller."
After a pause, Johnson added, "But the only way he could have done that was put dirt over the plate."