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Johnson delivers again as Braves close 7-3 homestand

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Kelly Johnson is sure glad he didn't take the day off.

Johnson came through with another huge two-out hit for the Braves, a bases-loaded double in the sixth inning, and Atlanta closed a long homestand with a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday.

The first-place Braves went 7-3 during an 11-day stay at Turner Field. They look more and more like the team that won 14 straight division titles -- not the one that ended the streak with a losing record last season.

"We have a lot of confidence," manager Bobby Cox said. "I don't know if it's swagger and all that. But we're off to a good start, real good. This is a fun team."

Johnson wasn't even supposed to be in the lineup. The Braves planned to give him the day off against Padres left-hander David Wells, but that changed shortly before the first pitch when Edgar Renteria was scratched for the third time in four games because of a flu-like symptoms.

The game was tied at 2 when light-hitting Chris Woodward doubled over the head of right fielder Brian Giles, putting runners at second and third with one out in the sixth. Wells struck out Craig Wilson on a checked swing, but that merely put the Braves in a spot where they've been at their best all season.

Pinch-hitter Willie Harris walked to load the bases and Wells hung a breaking ball to Johnson, who lined it into the right-field corner to drive everyone home.

The Braves have now scored a major league-leading 88 runs with two outs -- more than half of their overall production.

"I don't think there's any real secret to it," Johnson said. "We've got guys who know how to bear down. It's someone new every night."

Johnson slapped his hands together after sliding into third on the throw home. He's off to a strong start as the Braves' new second baseman, playing well in the field and topping the regulars with a .427 on-base percentage -- just what he's expected to do in the leadoff role.

"I'm very, very pleased," said Johnson, who had never played second until this season. "I take a lot of pride in all the work I put in. It's really paid off."

After Johnson's hit, Padres manager Bud Black strolled slowly to the mound to pull Wells (1-2), who surrendered seven hits and walked four in 5 2/3 innings.

"You have to give them credit," Black said. "They got the clutch hits when they needed them."

San Diego dropped three of four in the tightly fought series. There were two one-run games, two others decided by a pair off runs.

"It's tough to swallow when you lose three of four, especially some that you feel you should have won," Wells said.

Hudson (4-1) was staked to a 2-0 lead when the Braves put together four straight hits in the first, the last of them run-scoring singles by Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur. Wells didn't surrender another hit until the sixth, while the Padres rallied to tie it up.

Khalil Green led off the fourth with a single and came all the way home on Mike Cameron's double to left-center. Kevin Kouzmanoff followed with another double to nearly the same spot, evening the score at 2.

Hudson went six, scattering nine hits and working out of jams in the first and third. He got a scare in his final inning when Josh Bard lined a shot off the right-hander's left wrist. The pitcher fell to the ground and remained down while Bard beat out the hit.

"I knew he hit me good," Hudson said. "I expected when I looked down I was going to see my wrist cracked."

Instead, after a quick examination by head trainer Jeff Porter, Hudson threw a warmup toss with no problems and stayed in the game. He got Kouzmanoff to hit into a double play with his final pitch, then was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom half.

Hudson headed to the clubhouse for precautionary X-rays, which were negative. The wrist was wrapped after the game but he should be able to make his next start.

"It somehow found the flesh on this skinny wrist," Hudson quipped.

The Padres threatened in the seventh, closing to 5-3 on Jose Cruz Jr.'s sacrifice fly. But Chad Paronto escaped further trouble, getting Giles to hit into another inning-ending double play.

Tyler Yates worked a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save in as many chances since taking over as the closer while Bob Wickman is on the disabled list.

Notes

  • For the second straight game, the Braves did not allow a walk. They have gone 24 innings without issuing a free pass.
  • Atlanta has another streak going, this one not so enviable. The Braves have gone eight games without a homer, their power drought now at 67 straight innings.
  • San Diego hopes that RHP Clay Hensley will be able to throw off the mound early next week, then head to the minors for a rehab start. He's on the DL with a strained right groin.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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The Braves' Kelly Johnson clears the loaded bases with a double in the sixth to make Tim Hudson a winner.  (AP)
The Braves' Kelly Johnson clears the loaded bases with a double in the sixth to make Tim Hudson a winner. (AP)

Players of the Game
Atlanta

T. Hudson
IP 6.0
H 9
ER 2
BB 0
K 4
Atlanta

K. Johnson
AB 4
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 3
 
San Diego Padres
Marcus Giles, 2B4010002 .301
Jose Cruz Jr., LF3001011 .303
Brian Giles, RF4020001 .302
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B4020002 .294
Khalil Greene, SS4110003 .235
Josh Bard, C4010021 .232
Mike Cameron, CF4111001 .201
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B4011011 .115
David Wells, P2010011 .154
    Doug Brocail, P0000000 .000
   a- Geoff Blum, PH1110000 .163
    Justin Hampson, P0000000 .000
   b- Terrmel Sledge, PH1000000 .230
Totals35311305  
a-singled for Brocail in the 7th
b-popped out for Hampson in the 9th
Batting
2B - Mike Cameron (7, Hudson), Kevin Kouzmanoff (3, Hudson)
SF - Jose Cruz Jr. (1)
RBI - Jose Cruz Jr. (11), Mike Cameron (9), Kevin Kouzmanoff (9)
Team LOB - 6
San Diego Padres
David Wells (L,1-2) 5.2755430 6.32
Doug Brocail 0.1000000 0.98
Justin Hampson 2100120 2.00
Pitches-Strikes - David Wells 96-60, Doug Brocail 3-2, Justin Hampson 37-22
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - David Wells 5-9, Justin Hampson 1-3
Batters Faced - David Wells 28, Doug Brocail 1, Justin Hampson 8
Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson, 2B4013102 .289
Matt Diaz, LF3110101 .303
    Chad Paronto, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Yates, P0000000 .000
    Rafael Soriano, P0000000 .000
Chipper Jones, 3B4110012 .291
Andruw Jones, CF4011010 .233
Jeff Francoeur, RF4021000 .288
Brian McCann, C4110013 .287
Chris Woodward, SS4110002 .256
Craig Wilson, 1B3000112 .179
Tim Hudson, P1000010 .158
   a- Willie Harris, PH-LF0100200 .417
Totals3158555  
a-walked for Hudson in the 6th
Batting
2B - Kelly Johnson (8, Wells), Jeff Francoeur (10, Wells), Chris Woodward (1, Wells)
SH - Tim Hudson (2)
RBI - Kelly Johnson 3 (20), Andruw Jones (24), Jeff Francoeur (28)
2-OUT RBI - Kelly Johnson 3 (15)
SB - Jeff Francoeur (1, 2nd base off Hampson/Bard)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Johnson-C. Wilson, Johnson-Woodward-C. Wilson
Atlanta Braves
Tim Hudson (W,4-1) 6922040 1.83
Chad Paronto (H,1) 1211000 3.60
Tyler Yates (H,5) 1000010 4.60
Rafael Soriano (S,5) 1000000 2.95
WP - Chad Paronto (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Tim Hudson 44-34, Chad Paronto 8-6, Tyler Yates 11-7, Rafael Soriano 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tim Hudson 8-5, Chad Paronto 1-1, Tyler Yates 1-1, Rafael Soriano 1-2
Batters Faced - Tim Hudson 26, Chad Paronto 4, Tyler Yates 3, Rafael Soriano 3
Game Information
Attendance - 28799
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 82
Umpires - Home - Tim Tschida, First Base - Jim Joyce, Second Base - Jeff Nelson, Third Base - Jim Wolf