Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/28/13
Chris Johnson likely has seen his shot at the National League batting title slip away but Friday he got the big hit when the Braves needed it most. Johnson’s leadoff homer in the eighth inning lifted the Braves to a 1-0 win against the Phillies at Turner Field on a night that otherwise belonged to the starting pitchers Kris Medlen and the Phillies’ Cliff Lee. Entering the final weekend of the regular season Medlen and Lee treated Turner Field customers to an epic pitcher’s duel the kind that would live in baseball lore if it occurred a week later in the playoffs and the Braves moved closer to securing the top seed for the NL playoffs. “It was just an unbelievable day” said Medlen who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and won his sixth consecutive home start while Lee (14-8) struck out 13 in eight innings with no walks and three hits allowed the third on Johnson’s homer. “Those two guys it’s tough to score runs when you get big league studs on the mound like that and on their game” said Johnson who homered on an 0-2 slider. “I can’t tell you how hard those at-bats are. No part of me was trying to hit a home run on that swing. I was just trying to keep my swing short and got my barrel to it.” Medlen (15-12) gave up two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in eight innings to win his fifth consecutive decision and Craig Kimbrel struck out two in a perfect ninth inning for his majors-leading 50th save the first Brave with 50 since John Smoltz had 55 in 2002. It was the shortest game of the Braves season at 2 hours 7 minutes. “That was one hell of a pitching matchup and I’m not so sure that you could call the home run Chris Johnson hit a mistake” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “I’m thinking it was a pretty darn good pitch. I haven’t seen the videotape or anything like that but it almost looked like the ball was on the dirt. It was a hell of a pitch that he was able to get out of the ballpark.” The Braves (95-65) and Cardinals are tied for the National League’s best record with two games remaining but the Braves own a tiebreaker against the Cardinals by virtue of head-to-head record and can secure the league’s top seed and home-field advantage through the NL playoffs by finishing ahead or tied with St. Louis.
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