Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Johnson's solo home run was the deciding factor in a pitcher's duel as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 1-0, in the rubber match of a three-game set.
Both pitchers had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. Aaron Harang (1-0) surrendered only two hits with one walk and three strikeouts across 6 2/3 innings in his Braves debut. The right-hander agreed to a one-year contract on March 24 after splitting last season between the Cubs and Rangers.
"It was fun, but intense. After the first hit that Schafer got, the emotions kind of just run out of you for a minute," Harang said. "Knowing that you have a 1-0 lead, you have to stay in there and regain your focus to keep executing pitches."
B.J. Upton and Gerald Laird supplied Atlanta's other two hits and closer Craig Kimbrel retired the Brewers in order during the ninth to earn the save for Atlanta, which won its last two games for the series win.
Matt Garza (0-1) was spectacular in his Milwaukee debut. He retired 11 straight batters to start the game and recorded seven strikeouts across eight innings. Johnson's home run was one of only two hits that the right-hander conceded. Garza signed a 4-year, $50 million contract with the Brewers in January.
Garza registered four consecutive strikeouts across the first two innings and neither pitcher allowed a baserunner in the opening two frames. Harang allowed the game's first baserunner after issuing a walk Lyle Overbay in the bottom of the third. Garza then issued a two-out walk to Freddie Freeman in the fourth.
The two teams finally solved the starters in the seventh. Johnson smacked a fastball into the Milwaukee bullpen in left center, providing the game's first hit and lone run.
"It's one mistake and that's it. It's the big leagues. You have to pay for things like that," said Garza.
Logan Schafer singled up the middle past the glove of Harang to disrupt the right-hander's no-hit bid. Ryan Braun then grounded into a force out that moved Schafer up to second and Aramis Ramirez stroked a line drive single to right, moving Schafer over to third.
After getting Jonathan Lucroy to pop out to second, Harang was pulled in favor of Luis Avilan with runners on the corners and two outs. Avilan got pinch- hitter Rickie Weeks to ground out to third to end the threat.
Will Smith entered the game in the ninth for the Brewers. Heyward struck out before B.J. Upton singled and stole second with Freeman up to bat. Smith walked Freeman, but fanned Johnson before Brandon Kintzler came in to face Justin Upton, who flied out to shallow right.
Kimbrel was called on for the second straight game. Heyward sprinted in from right to make a diving catch off Carlos Gomez to record the first out, Schafer fanned on a 3-2 pitch and Braun's liner to center ended the game.