Johnson pitches 7 innings, Marlins beat Brewers
MIAMI Josh Johnson is looking to finish strong after a tough start to the season.
Johnson pitched seven solid innings and ended his career-worst four-game losing skid, leading the Miami Marlins past the Milwaukee Brewers 6-2 Thursday.
“I settled in, used my curveball and located my fastball,” Johnson said. “I made pitches when I needed to. That’s the name of the game.”
Johnson (8-11) allowed two runs and four hits while striking out seven while lowering his ERA to 3.86. He won for the first time since Aug. 3 at Washington. He has a 3.22 ERA in his last 17 starts compared to a 4.83 ERA in his first 11 starts.
“He started the season very rough because he hadn’t pitched in a while,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “After that he got the momentum going. You look up and he’s had a great year if you look at it that way, compared to last year.”
Greg Dobbs drove in two runs for Miami. The Marlins had 12 hits, three by Donovan Solano.
“It’s fun when you see people smile and play music in the clubhouse,” Guillen said.
The Brewers lost for just the fourth time in 17 games. A day earlier, they pulled within 6½ games of the second NL wild-card spot.
“Every game is a must-win at this point,” Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said.
The Marlins scored three runs in the first inning as Solano, Jose Reyes and Dobbs each drove in a run off Marco Estrada (2-6), who came into the game 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his previous three starts.
“It was brutal,” Estrada said. “I went out there and wasn’t making my pitches. I felt all out of whack. I just wasn’t making my pitches and even when I did they got hit.”
An error by second baseman Rickie Weeks, who starred Wednesday night with a pair of two-run homers, let the Marlins stretch their lead to 4-0 in the second. Donnie Murphy doubled and scored on the misplay.
The Brewers had averaged 7.7 runs in the previous seven games, but did little against Johnson.
“He was tough,” Lucroy said. “He’s a real big guy and you don’t have a lot of time to react to it. He’s throwing pretty hard. He pitched well, you have to give credit to him.”
Norichika Aoki tripled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Braun.
The Brewers pulled to 4-2 in the seventh on a sacrifice by Aoki.
Giancarlo Stanton and Dobbs doubled in the eighth and Murphy added an RBI single.
“We took advantage of the scoring opportunities we had,” Dobbs said.
NOTES: Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez was held out with a lower back and oblique strain. He aggravated the injury during an at-bat on Wednesday and was pulled. “You always worry about those things because they can be more than what the player thinks,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “He says, ‘I don’t think it’s that bad, maybe just a day.’ Sometimes it turns into a lot more than that.” ... The Brewers recalled 3B Taylor Green from Triple-A Nashville. ... Aoki has had three hitting streaks of at least 10 games, including a 15-game string from June 23-July 8. ... Marlins OF Logan Morrison underwent knee surgery on Wednesday and is expected to be ready for spring training. ... Marlins RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, who has not pitched this season, underwent Tommy John surgery on Thursday and could miss the 2013 season. Oviedo was suspended eight weeks by Major League Baseball for pitching under the name of Leo Nunez and was eligible to return on July 23. He injured his elbow during a minor league rehabilitation assignment and will be a free agent at the end of the season. ... Miami RHP Jacob Turner (0-2, 6.55 ERA) will oppose Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-6, 2.94 ERA) on Friday night at Nationals Park. ... Milwaukee will send ace RHP Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.79 ERA) against St. Louis RHP Kyle Lohse (14-2, 2.81 ERA).