MIAMI -- Clinging to first place, the Atlanta Braves struck out 15 times, went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position and had two men thrown out on the bases.
Jair Jurrjens more than compensated. The right-hander allowed only three hits in seven innings, and the Braves retained their one-game lead in the NL East by beating the Florida Marlins 2-0 Saturday night.Second-place Philadelphia beat Milwaukee 5-4 but gained no ground on the Braves, who have been alone atop the division since May 31."The situation we're in right now, only one game up, everybody is watching the scoreboard," Jurrjens said. "Right now every game for us is big. We're trying to keep the Phillies off our back."The Braves had a frustrating night offensively but came out on top in a battle of JJs. Florida's Josh Johnson (11-6) tied a career high with 12 strikeouts in six innings but left trailing 2-0 because Jurrjens was even better."Jair rose to the occasion," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He was really on target. When you're going against an ace, you'd better pitch like one yourself. And he pitched like one tonight."Jurrjens (7-4) matched a career high by winning his fourth decision in a row, and he won for the first time in 10 road starts this year. He struck out seven and walked three.Braves catcher Brian McCann said the start was Jurrjens' best this year."He stepped up tonight and basically won us that game," McCann said.Florida's best scoring chance came in the first inning. Cameron Maybin led off with a bunt single and continued to second on a throwing error by Jurrjens, but the right-hander escaped.Braves center fielder Rick Ankiel made a nice catch of Dan Uggla's fly with two on to end the third inning."We had a couple of opportunities," Uggla said. "We just couldn't capitalize."Billy Wagner completed a four-hitter, pitching around a one-out single by Hanley Ramirez in the ninth for his 32nd save in 39 chances.The Braves had plenty of chances, too. They were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position before Alex Gonzalez's RBI single on a two-out, 2-2 pitch in the sixth.Atlanta had six baserunners in the first three innings against Johnson but scored only once. Melky Cabrera reached on an infield single to start the second inning and came home when Gonzalez doubled off the wall.Gonzalez advanced to third but was out at home when Jurrjens failed to make contact on a squeeze play.Atlanta lost another runner on the bases in the fifth. With Braves at first and second and one out, center fielder Maybin made a diving catch to rob Martin Prado of an extra-base hit. Omar Infante was tagged out trying to advance to third following the catch.McCann doubled to start the sixth and scored on Gonzalez's single. That was more than enough for Jurrjens."He spotted all his pitches well," Maybin said. "He's not scared of throwing his pitches where he wants, no matter the count. With a guy like that, you are just looking for him to make mistakes. Tonight he didn't make many."
Jurrjens improved to 1-4 on the road this year with an ERA of 5.81. ... Ankiel is 0-for-6 in the series with six strikeouts. ... The Braves' Chipper Jones, already out for the season, was out of the game in the first inning. Plate umpire Doug Eddings ejected Jones for arguing from the dugout about balls and strikes. ... Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez was back after serving a one-game suspension for his role in a brawl with the Nationals.
23,912 (62% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
84 degrees, partly cloudy
Home Plate - Doug Eddings, First Base - Dana Demuth, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Kerwin Danley
How Braves starter Jair Jurrjens flummoxed Florida: ... Froze 'em: Got 24 called strikes, his most this season, and four called strikeouts. Marlins swung at just 40.4% of all pitches, second-lowest for a Jurrjens opponent this year. ... Good slider: Threw 18 of them, 14 for strikes-- his highest strike percentage with the slide-piece this season.
... Untouchable when ahead: Florida went 0-for-11 when Jurrjens was ahead in the count; he also threw 55% offspeed pitches in that situation (versus just 32.3% in other counts). Marlins also missed with 41.2% of their swings against offspeed pitches, Jurrjens' highest in 10 starts.
Chipper Jones joins the Phillies' Ross Gload (8/24 vs HOU) as the two players this season to get ejected from a game while not on the active roster. Gload raised a fuss from the dugout about Ryan Howard's "infamous" tossing in the 14th inning of that game that resulted in Roy Oswalt playing the outfield. Gload was also on the DL at the time.