Johnson trails Nolan Ryan (search) (5,714), Roger Clemens (4,200) and Steve Carlton (4,136), but reached the milestone the quickest.
The Big Unit, midway through his 16th year in the majors, got there in 3,237 1-3 innings, a strikeout-to-inning ratio of 11.12. None of the others had a double-figure ratio, with Ryan's 9.55 the next-best based on 3,844 2-3 innings.
Johnson's 196 double-digit strikeout games are second only to Ryan's 215.
Johnson threw three sliders to Cirillo to reach a 2-1 count before blowing a fastball by him to make it 2-2. After missing with a slider to run the count full, Johnson got his eighth strikeout of the game with an 87 mph slider low on the outside corner.
The Padres, aware of his 15-2 record in 19 previous starts against them, came out swinging early, and Johnson's first five outs were two flies, two grounders and a popup.
He got the first against Ryan Klesko to end the second, starting with an 0-2 count that got the disappointing crowd of 34,633 — nearly 14,000 below capacity — going. Johnson finished with three straight fastballs, the last two at 97 mph to get Klesko on a called third strike.
In the third, Johnson struck out Padres starter Brian Sweeney after giving up a single and double that led to a 2-0 San Diego lead.
Johnson struck out Phil Nevin and Jay Payton in the fourth after starting both off with 0-2 counts, got Sweeney again in the fifth and Cirillo — for the 19th time in 54 career at-bats — in the sixth.
He recorded his seventh strikeout against Klesko for the third out in the seventh.