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Schafer paces Braves win over Indians

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- With four relievers already used, the Atlanta Braves didn't want to go to extra innings. Jordan Schafer and Chris Johnson made sure that didn't happen.

Johnson drove in Schafer, who had just singled and stolen second base, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Braves a 3-2 interleague victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.

It was the Braves' 21st final at-bat victory of the season and improved their record at Turner Field to 46-18 -- by far the best home record in the majors.

Schafer, taking over the leadoff spot with Jason Heyward sidelined by a broken jaw, was 3-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases and drove in the Braves' other two runs with a two-out single in the second inning.

"He's been amazing," Johnson said. "Losing J-Hey was such a blow, but Schafer has stepped in and done everything you could ask."

Left-handed hitting Freddie Freeman was walked intentionally and Johnson drove a 2-2 pitch from sidearm right-hander Joe Smith into left field for his first walk-off hit as Schafer beat the throw to the plate with a slide.

"It's obviously not personal, it was Freddie Freeman," Johnson said. "But anytime someone is walked ahead of you, you want to come up big and that is what I did."

It was another tough loss for the Indians, who had just three hits in a 2-0 loss to the Braves in the series opener and remain 5 1/2 games behind Detroit in the American League Central.

Mike Aviles homered in the fourth inning and had a game-tying sacrifice fly in the eighth for the Indians, but it all went for naught.

"It was a game we should have won," Aviles said. "We've got to find a way to get a 'W' in cases like this. The Braves are a good time, but we had a lot our chances and couldn't put it together."

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, who pitched a perfect top of the ninth, got the victory after Luis Avilan let a lead slip away in the prior inning.

Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis opened the inning with singles and Aviles followed a one-out walk with a game-tying sacrifice fly.

But Asdrubal Cabrera was caught off first base and tagged out in a rundown to end the rally.

Braves starter Paul Maholm, making his second start since spending a month on the disabled list with a strained left wrist, allowed six hits over six innings, but the only damage came on Aviles' fourth-inning homer.

Maholm's ERA coming into the no-decision was 1.93 at home compared to 6.08 ERA on the road, where he had experienced his four-game losing streak.

Maholm kept the Indians guessing, throwing one curveball at 59 mph.

"I'd got into some bad habits with my mechanics," the left-hander said. "This is the first time in a while that I've felt good."

Indians starter Justin Masterson allowed five hits and four walks in six innings, his free pass to Maholm in the second inning leading to the two runs he allowed. It was his third quality start in as many interleague outings this season and his 18th overall.

"He fought his command the whole game, but he never broke," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Masterson walked Maholm with two outs in the second inning and Schafer made the right-hander pay by lining an opposite-field single to drive in two runs. Maholm couldn't score from second base on Justin Upton's hit, though, and Masterson kept away from a big inning by striking out Freeman with the bases loaded.

Braves center fielder B.J. Upton robbed Carlos Santana with a diving catch to start the fourth inning before Aviles picked on a 0-1 cutter from Maholm and lined his eighth homer of the season just over the left-field fence to make the score 2-1.

NOTES: Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, in his first game after coming off the disabled list following laser eye surgery, was 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. ... Indians OF Ryan Raburn, who hadn't played since Aug. 18 because of a strained left Achilles as well as a sore right calf, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday. Rayburn, second on the team with 15 homers, will be eligible to come off the DL Tuesday. OF Matt Carson was promoted from Triple-A Columbus to fill in. ... The Braves optioned OF Todd Cunningham to Triple-A Gwinnett to make room for Uggla to come off the DL. ... RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-8, 3.95) will start for the Indians against RHP Kris Medlen (10-12, 4.74) in the finale of the three-game interleague series Thursday night. Jimenez pitched a no-hitter at Turner Field for Colorado on April 10, 2010.
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