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Braves roll to 17th win in 19 games

The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- Nothing Chris Johnson does at the plate surprises Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez these days.

Johnson drove in three runs over the first two innings, sparking Atlanta to a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.

Johnson, the National League's leading hitter with a .337 average, hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a two-run single in the second as the Braves jumped to a 5-0 lead and cruised to their 17th win in their past 19 games.

"He does it. He comes up big," Gonzalez said. "Good for us. Good for him."

Johnson has hit safely in four consecutive games, and he went 4-for-11 in the series with Philadelphia.

The run support benefited Brandon Beachy, who won his second consecutive start. Beachy (2-0) gave up two runs on six hits and struck out four over six innings.

"I thought he did a nice job under the conditions," Gonzalez said, referring to the rain that delayed the start of the game for one hour and 48 minutes.

Luis Ayala and Luis Avilan each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Atlanta. David Carpenter, pitching the ninth in a non-save situation, allowed a long solo homer to Darin Ruf, his seventh, and walked Cody Asche. That caused Gonzalez to bring in closer Craig Kimbrel, who set down the next three batters and earned his 38th save.

"That was a good learning experience for (Carpenter)," Gonzalez said. "There's a lot of difference in pitching the seventh and the ninth."

Philadelphia starter John Lannan (3-6) was charged with five runs in 1 1/3 innings, leaving the game with the bases loaded due to a left knee injury. Reliever Zach Miner allowed all three inherited runners to score.

"He hurt it enough to come out of the game," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said of Lannan. "He didn't give us any indication. We didn't know anything about it until we went out there to talk to him."

Lannan missed the season's first 55 games following knee surgery. Manuel speculated that Lannan may have tweaked the knee while covering first base on an infield grounder.

The Braves scored two runs in the first inning. Jason Heyward hit the second pitch of the game into the left field seats for his 11th home run. Justin Upton walked and eventually scored on Johnson's sacrifice fly to left.

After Lannan exited with one out in the second, Miner was greeted by Freddie Freeman's long sacrifice fly to center field. Miner then hit Evan Gattis with a pitch, and Johnson followed with a two-RBI single up the middle that gave Atlanta a five-run lead.

The Phillies got on the board in the sixth inning. Domonic Brown hit a two-run homer, his 27th.

Atlanta upped its lead to 6-2 with a run in the seventh. Andrelton Simmons led off with a double, took third on B.J. Upton's fly to right and scored on Paul Janish's sacrifice fly, his first RBI of the year.

The Phillies now return home for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been as hot as Atlanta

"We've got to come out and play every day," Manuel said. "We can still win some games. If the starting pitching gets going right, we'll win some games."

NOTES: Atlanta 2B Tyler Pastornicky had to leave the game early after being run over by Heyward while pursuing a ball in shallow right field. Pastornicky was knocked to the ground by the larger Heyward and returned to the field. He was removed with a sprained left knee an inning later. ... The Phillies released OF Delmon Young on Wednesday after designating him for assignment last week. Young refused an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He hit .261 in 80 games for Philadelphia after signing as a free agent in the offseason. ... Gonzalez held C Brian McCann and Simmons out of the starting lineup. "With the off day (on Thursday), it's a way to give them two days off," Gonzalez said. McCann has had sore knees, and Gonzalez said Simmons is "beat up" and needed a break. Simmons had to enter the game in the fourth inning after Pastornicky was shaken up.
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