The Atlanta Braves seem to have snapped out of their offensive funk in a big way.
After getting outscored 27-1 during their season-high five-game losing streak, the Braves (41-38) outscored Washington 23-3 in a three-game sweep. In Wednesday’s 13-0 victory - their second most-lopsided of 2007 - they set a season high with 22 hits.
“I guess the question would be, ‘How ‘bout those bats?’” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, whose team recorded its first sweep since a three-game set at Philadelphia to open the season. “If a team was ever due to break out, it was our team.”
Atlanta catcher Brian McCann, batting .268 this season after hitting .333 in his first full season in 2006, went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs, and finished the series 7-for-11 with two homers and six RBIs. He is 5-for-12 with a home run in his career against Johnson.
“We have to keep swinging the bats,” McCann told the Braves’ official Web site. “This is just a start.”
McCann is 5-for-12 with a homer in his career against Johnson (0-2, 14.85 ERA), who will try again for his first win of the year.
Johnson placed fourth in NL rookie of the year voting after going 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 2006. But irritation of an ulnar nerve in his throwing elbow began bothering him in the offseason. He missed all of spring training, and didn’t make his first start until June 18.
The right-hander gave up eight runs - four earned - in that outing, and was tagged for seven runs in three innings of an 11-1 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
Johnson hopes any rust is gone when he faces an Atlanta team he has fared well against in the past. He is 2-0 with a 2.23 ERA in six career games, including five starts, against the NL East rival Braves.
Florida (37-42) will look to build on its 9-7 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
The Marlins saw their six-run lead cut to one, but Hanley Ramirez delivered an RBI single in the eighth inning - his third hit of the game - to provide an insurance run.
“It’s never a tough one when you win,” manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Marlins’ official Web site.
Ramirez is 9-for-27 through the first six games of Florida’s nine-game homestand, and is batting .347 at Dolphin Stadium this season.
The Braves will put their win streak on the line with Chuck James (6-7, 4.29) on the mound. Like Johnson and Ramirez, James had a strong rookie year in 2006, going 11-4 with a 3.78 ERA. The left-hander posted a 2.08 ERA in splitting two starts against the Marlins.
James hasn’t pitched very well lately, though, losing three of his last four starts while compiling a 5.82 ERA. He gave up four runs in five innings on Sunday, suffering the loss in Atlanta’s 5-0 defeat against Detroit.