|Atlanta Braves' Randall Delgado pitches against the Miami Marlins in the third inning of a baseball game in Miami, Wednesday, June 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)|
Johnson pitches well in Marlins' loss to Braves
MIAMI—Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen watched his team collect seven total hits in two nights and still found something to praise: Josh Johnson.
The ace right-hander turned in his best performance of the year Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to Atlanta. He went a season-high 7 2-3 innings and allowed two runs.
"The good thing out of all this is the way J.J. threw the ball," Guillen said. "That's a step forward. That's the first time I've seen him throw the ball like that. His velocity and command were a lot better."
Johnson (3-4), inconsistent through the first two months of the season, took the loss because his team finished with two hits. But he struck out nine and hit 96 mph several times on the radar gun.
"My last bullpen something clicked and felt really good, and I took that into this start," he said. "It was a good step in the right direction."
Even so, Johnson was outpitched by Randall Delgado, who went 6 1-3 innings and contributed his first RBI of the year. Brian McCann had three of the Braves' six hits and scored a run.
Delgado (4-5) allowed one run and had a career-high seven strikeouts. He won for only the second time in his past nine starts.
"Their pitcher was better than we were. Sometimes you've got to tip your hat," Guillen said. "This kid today was on top of his game, and the bullpen did a tremendous job. They've got a great bullpen, we all know that."
Three Braves relievers combined to retire all eight batters they faced. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his NL-leading 17th save in 18 chances.
"Our pitching was phenomenal," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We had good solid defense, nothing flashy, made all the routine plays and just got enough runs."
In the series opener Tuesday, Tim Hudson shut out the Marlins on five hits. The Braves have won five of their past six games, and their 19-14 road record is the best in the NL.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left the game with a bruised left index finger. He singled home Atlanta's first run in the fourth inning, then was hurt trying to break up a double play when he was hit at close range by Hanley Ramirez's relay throw.
Freeman was called out for interference and departed. His finger was put in a splint, and X-rays are planned for Thursday.
Gonzalez batted his pitcher eighth for the second night in a row, and the strategy paid off again. With two out and runners on the corners, Delgado singled on a hit and run to make the score 2-0.
"We started the runners, put the ball in play and got lucky with a hit through the hole," Gonzalez said.
Hudson drove in two runs from eighth spot Tuesday.
Delgado retired the first 12 batters before Giancarlo Stanton doubled to lead off the fifth. He scored the Marlins' first run of the series on a two-out single by Bryan Petersen -- only his second RBI this season.
That was the Marlins' final hit. Jose Reyes went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, ending the longest active hitting streak in the majors at 15 games.
NOTES: Marlins OF Austin Kearns (hamstring) was hit on the elbow in a game Wednesday during a rehabilitation assignment, which may delay his return from the disabled list. ... The Braves have won nine of their past 11 games in Miami. ... Kimbrel has 34 strikeouts in 21 innings. ... Miami's Logan Morrison is batting .368 in day games and .142 at night. ... The Marlins' bullpen has allowed only five home runs, fewest in the majors.