MIAMI (AP) -- Even though the Florida Marlins well far short of
their expectations, they at least ensured a winning record.
Pinch-hitter Lenny Harris had a two-run homer in the eighth
inning that led Florida over the NL East champion Atlanta Braves on
Friday night and assured the Marlins of finishing at .500 or
Matt Treanor's run-scoring single in the sixth off John Thomson
(4-6) put Florida ahead 3-2. Braves closer Kyle Farnsworth walked
Jeremy Hermida in the eighth and, one out later, Harris connected
for his fifth career pinch-homer.
"I thought it was going to hook so I tried to give it a little
English at the plate, and it kind of stayed fair," Harris said.
Florida (81-79) will finish with a .500-or-higher record for the
third straight season, a first for the franchise, which started
play in 1993. It also meant that none of the five NL East teams
will have losing records.
Atlanta has lost two straight since clinching a record 14th
straight division title Tuesday night.
"Maybe we didn't show it tonight but we've got a lot of fight
in this team," Thomson said. "Maybe it does have something to do
with us already clinching the division and guys may be backing off
just a little bit but I feel pretty comfortable about going to the
postseason. I'm watching the TV right now trying to figure out who
we're gonna play."
Ron Villone (2-2) got two outs in the sixth for the win, and
Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 39th save in 43 chances.
Rookie Josh Johnson made his first major league start, taking
the slot of A.J. Burnett, who was banished from the team Monday by
manager Jack McKeon. That move came after a day after Burnett lost
his sixth straight decision, then said the Marlins play scared
because McKeon and his staff are too negative.
"It was pretty special," said Johnson, a 21-year-old native of
Minneapolis. "I've been thinking about this since I was teeny
tiny. I grew up watching the Twins. I remember watching the World
Series in '87, so I've been watching baseball ever since. It's
Braves manager Bobby Cox already had replaced the first three
hitters in his starting lineup -- Rafael Furcal, Marcus Giles and
Chipper Jones -- when he sent Ryan Langerhans in to pinch run for
Andruw Jones, who was hit by a pitch in the sixth.
"He's got a great sinker," Cox said of Johnson. "The ball
moves in, big time. He knows how to pitch. They've got to like him.
Maybe they've got a replacement for A.J."
Johnson, who pitched four shutout innings Saturday at Atlanta,
left after he loaded the bases with a walk to Adam LaRoche. Villone
relieved and pinch-hitter Brian Jordan hit a sacrifice fly that
tied the score 2-2.
Johnson allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, struck
out seven and walked four.
"He did a good job," McKeon said. "It's too bad we don't have
more games where we could give him a few more opportunities, but he
did his job tonight. We were very proud of the way he performed out
there and stayed within himself. I think he's got a good future
Mike Lowell hit a leadoff double in the bottom half off Thomson.
One out later, Matt Treanor hit an RBI single to put the Marlins
back on top and chase Thomson, who allowed three runs -- two earned
-- and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Florida opened the scoring in the third. With runners on first
and third and no one out, Thomson fielded Carlos Delgado's grounder
back to the mound and immediately turned and threw to shortstop
Rafael Furcal, who threw to first to complete the double play as
Juan Pierre came home from third.
Johnson struck out the side in the second. ... Marlins 3B
Miguel Cabrera reached into the stands to catch Wilson Betamit's
foul pop to end the seventh. ... It was Harris' fifth career pinch
hit homer, his first homer since Sept. 23, 2004, also as a pinch