Johnson, Franco homer to lift slumping Braves past Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas (Ticker) -- The
had been struggling at the plate until they received a power boost from players on opposite ends of the experience scale.
homered during a five-run fifth inning as the Braves rolled to a 7-2 victory over the
in an interleague matchup.
Losers of four of its last five games and hitting a major league-worst .210 over the last 10, Atlanta trailed 2-1 in the fifth inning when the 23-year-old Johnson belted his first career homer - a three-run shot - over the center field wall.
"There are a lot of factors that made tonight great," said Johnson, a native of nearby Austin. "It's a day I can look back on and remember. To be in your home state and have a lot of fans and friends here was great. Today is a good day for me to build on."
Two batters later, 46-year-old Franco plated
with a home run against Texas starter
"I feel really good just to contribute because I haven't been hitting that well recently," Franco said. "It's also nice to see Johnson coming along. The kid hit a home run and he got his confidence back."
Making his 12th start, Astacio is 1-7 in his last nine outings and may be in danger of losing his roster spot because of an escalating pay scale for each start after 10.
"I don't have any excuse," Astacio said. "In a situation where I had to make a pitch, I missed. Sometimes when you don't do your job, that job can be on the line. I have to go out every time I have the ball and do the job. It's hard and it's frustrating but I don't feel any pressure."
Franco, who also had an RBI single in the first, broke into the major leagues in 1982 - the year Johnson was born.
With injuries to
(3-0) made his first start for the Braves. He yielded
's two-run blast in the first but settled down to allow just four other hits while striking out seven in five innings.
"We had to have it and Sosa gave it to us tonight," Braves manager
said. "His slider and change were working pretty well and he did a great job when we really need him to do a great job."
Making his first start since September 12 for Tampa Bay, Sosa did not issue a walk for the first time in his 42 career starts.
"Tonight feels really good," Sosa said through an interpreter. "The Braves gave me the confidence to start when I hadn't started a game in a while. I had great concentration coming in and to not walk anyone was important for me."
tossed two scoreless innings apiece to preserve the victory.
Atlanta improved to 7-1 against the Rangers in interleague play.