for this game

Johnson goes the distance in shutting down Braves

Aug 28, 2008 - 3:23 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Josh Johnson helped keep the Florida Marlins' faint playoff hopes alive with a sensational performance.

Johnson hurled a four-hit gem to lead the Marlins to a 4-1 victory over the woeful Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

Dan Uggla hit a towering home run and Hanley Ramirez drove in a pair of runs and for Florida (68-65), which moved to within 5 1/2 games of the New York Mets (74-60) in the National League East Division.

"You give (Johnson) a full season and he will be in contention for the Cy Young," Uggla said. "It's tough to be much better than he was (before "Tommy John" surgery), but he's gotten better."

Florida's playoff hopes were dealt a serious blow on Tuesday night, after the Braves rallied from a three-run ninth inning deficit to defeat Kevin Gregg and the Marlins.

But the Marlins got back on track behind the surgically repaired right arm of Johnson (4-0).

The righthander, who had ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow last August, made quick work of an Atlanta lineup that was missing Mark Kotsay - who was traded to the Boston Red Sox earlier on Wednesday.

"He wasn't just good, he was great," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of Johnson. "You couldn't touch him at all. I don't know if we've ever beaten that kid. He's legit. He's a legit No. 1 (starter). He looked like he did two years ago. He's dynamite."

Johnson took a no-hitter into the fifth and retired 12 straight after issuing a leadoff walk to Atlanta rookie Gregor Blanco before Kelly Johnson laced a one-out triple.

The 24-year-old Johnson dominated in this one, hurling 80 of his 113 pitches for strikes en route first career complete game. He allowed one run and four hits, walking three and striking out eight en route to improving to 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves.

"It was a good feeling," said Johnson, who claimed to last throw a complete game in high school. "My location was good. I was down in the zone. My slider was good and my two-seamer."

The key to the Florida righthander's success was getting ahead in the count and recording the big out when he needed to.

Johnson, who hurled 24 of 32 first-pitch strikes, worked out of a runners on second-and-third jam with one out in the eighth by fanning two straight Braves and retired Martin Prado on a fielder's choice to end the game with the tying run at the plate.

"That was an outstanding performance," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was a good ballgame. (Johnson's) mechanics are so good. His delivery is so solid."

"He was tough," added Atlanta right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who had two hits off Johnson. "He was putting it wherever he wanted to. I don't know if he missed more than one or two spots tonight."

Florida got to Atlanta starter Mike Hampton (2-2) in the third. Uggla lead off the frame with a double into the right-center field gap to bring up Wes Helms.

Gonzalez's gamble to start Helms, who was inserted into the lineup because of his .571 average (4-for-7) against Hampton, immediately paid dividends as the former Braves prospect plated Uggla with a single. Helms also was in the middle of Florida's two-out fifth inning rally, scoring on Ramirez's two-run single, which gave Florida a 3-0 lead.

Uggla capped the scoring with a towering blast midway up the second section of bleachers in left-center field off of Atlanta reliever Blaine Boyer in the ninth. The titanic 430-foot blast, which almost landed in the ballpark's second deck, was Uggla's 28th homer of the season.

"Luckily, we got one run early and then J.J. took over," Uggla said. "Our offense is going to take care of itself. Timely hitting is how you know when the team is playing well."

The runs were enough to make a loser of Hampton, who had one of his better outings since coming back from two "Tommy John" surgeries and a myriad of other injuries.

The 35-year-old Hampton yielded three runs and eight hits while walking one and striking out five over eight frames. It was the longest outing for Hampton since May 8, 2005 when he tossed a two-hit shutout against the Houston Astros.

"I pitched a good game on a night when I needed to pitch a great game," Hampton said. "I definitely can take some positive things out of this start."

Prado drove a run with a groundout in the fifth for Atlanta, which has won just three of its last 16 games.






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    Marlins 4, Braves 1  FinalAug 27 9:47 PM


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    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    FLORIDA 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 1 4 9 1
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: FLA - JOSH JOHNSON AND PAUL LO DUCA
    ATL - MIKE HAMPTON, BLAINE BOYER (9TH) AND BRIAN MCCANN

    HOME RUNS: FLA - DAN UGGLA (28) OFF BLAINE BOYER IN THE 9TH, 0 ON
    ATL -

    Aug 27 9:31 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY DAN UGGLA (28) TO LEFT WITH 2 OUT IN THE
    9TH OFF BLAINE BOYER.
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 4, ATLANTA 1
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: W HELMS (.247, 1-FOR-3, RBI)

    Marlins 4, Braves 1  Top 9, 0 OutsAug 27 9:18 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY MARTIN PRADO SCORED KELLY JOHNSON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: J FRANCOEUR (.228, 0-FOR-1)

    Marlins 3, Braves 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsAug 27 8:22 PM
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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY HANLEY RAMIREZ SCORED DAN UGGLA AND WES HELMS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, H RAMIREZ ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 3
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: P LO DUCA (.245, 0-FOR-2)

    Marlins 3, Braves 0  Top 5, 0 OutsAug 27 8:13 PM
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    Marlins 1, Braves 0  Top 5, 0 OutsAug 27 8:02 PM


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    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY WES HELMS SCORED DAN UGGLA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W HELMS ON FIRST, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 1
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: J JOHNSON (.222, 0 HR, 2 RBI)

    Marlins 1, Braves 0  Top 3, 0 OutsAug 27 7:37 PM