MIAMI(AP) Six innings in,
and the Braves didn't feel too good about their chances against the Marlins.
Then they figured out
hit a two-run triple in the seventh and
pitched six effective innings to carry the
on Monday night, 5-2 in a matchup between NL wild-card contenders.
Johnson did not allow a hit until the sixth inning, when
lined a 2-2 slider to center field with two outs after Kawakami had a 10-pitch at-bat.
''It's a huge win, probably the biggest one of the year especially sitting back and watching how the first six innings went,''
Braves third baseman
each drove in a run for the Braves in the opener of a four-game series.
With the win, Atlanta (69-62) moved within three games of wild-card co-leaders San Francisco (72-59) and Colorado (72-59),
both of which were idle on Monday. Florida (68-63) has lost four of five to fall four games back.
''We are very fortunate we have played some really good baseball since the All-Star break,'' Jones said. ''Pretty much all
of September we are going against teams in our division so there won't be any surprises. We have two big series with Florida
and I'm sure it's going to be tooth and nail the whole way.''
In the seventh,
and Escobar singled off Johnson (13-4) ahead of Infante's triple to deep center field with two outs. Ross then made it 3-1
with a base hit up the middle, forcing Johnson out of the game.
''Just one bad pitch,'' Johnson said. ''The other pitches were a broken bat and a jam shot. They hit one hard ball. It's just
one of those days when things don't go your way.''
Johnson allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
''Johnson is one of the top guys in baseball,'' Braves manager
said. ''You have to put him in the top five anyway, for me, in all of baseball and that's with some really good ones. He's
that good. The kid is that good.''
Kawakami (7-10) quietly kept the Braves in the game as he allowed one run and six hits in six innings. He threw 51 of his
75 pitches for strikes and struck out five without walking a batter.
''After giving up that one run, I knew I couldn't give up any more runs with how (Johnson) was pitching,'' Kawakami said through
LaRoche and Escobar each drove in a run with back-to-back base hits to right field off
in the eighth to stretch Atlanta's lead to 5-1.
''Anytime your best pitcher is on the mound, you want to win those games,'' Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''We didn't
add on runs.''
The Marlins took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when
led off with a double down the left-field line and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by
Uggla added an RBI double in the ninth.
''There's no sense of urgency,'' Uggla said. ''There's still time, there's still a lot of games left. We're all calm and relaxed
and I'm pretty sure we're going to stay that way.''
NOTES: Marlins 1B
(strained hamstring) could be activated for the weekend series against the Nationals. ... The Marlins anticipate adding help
to their bullpen when rosters expand on Tuesday. ... Following the game the Marlins designated RHP
for assignment and recalled OF
will be recalled and start for the Marlins on Wednesday. ... The Braves are 26-17 after the All-Star Break, third-best in
the National League behind St. Louis (28-13) and Philadelphia (27-15). ... Diaz has the highest career batting average (.423)
at Land Shark Stadium among players with at least 75 plate appearances. ... Braves RHP
(elbow surgery) will make his first start of 2009 on Tuesday. Hudson went 11-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 2008.