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Johnson homers, pitches Marlins past Braves 6-3

MIAMI - Josh Johnson's bat was just as potent as his pitching.

Johnson hit a three-run homer in another solid start, lifting the Florida Marlins to a 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.

Johnson's shot with two outs in the fourth off Kenshin Kawakami (5-8) went well over the center-field wall for only the second home run of his career. The homer earned him a curtain call from fans and gave the Marlins their seventh win in the last eight games.

Johnson (10-2) allowed eight hits in six innings before the bullpen shut out the Braves the rest of the way. Leo Nunez gave up a triple in the ninth to Kelly Johnson before striking out Nate McLouth for his eighth save in 11 chances.

Casey Kotchman's home run leading off the fifth and Garret Anderson's two-run homer in the sixth were all the Braves could squeeze out of Florida's ace.

Atlanta has done little to slow Florida, and not even another ejection from manager Bobby Cox to extend his major-league record to 147 could spark a rally against the streaky Marlins.

After getting swept by the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies in a four-game series less than two weeks ago, the Marlins' playoff hopes looked grim. A 5-1 West Coast trip against the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers and two straight over the Braves have put Florida in the thick of the wild-card chase with a cluster of teams.

Florida's bats are finally matching its starting pitching.

Ramirez hit an RBI triple in the third that scored Emilio Bonifacio to put the Marlins ahead 1-0. The speedy Bonifacio hustled to score from first, losing his helmet around second as Ramirez's hit trickled to the right-center field wall.

Ramirez, the NL-batting leader, added another highlight with his 16th homer of the season in the fifth. Dan Uggla hit his 18th home run of the year later in the inning to put the Marlins ahead 6-1, chasing Kawakami and giving Johnson all the cushion he needed.

Atlanta didn't go out without a few of those famous fits.

Cox was tossed in the eighth inning for arguing ball and strikes. Plate umpire Bill Hohn motioned to Atlanta's dugout trying to quiet Cox, who then came on the field to argue with Anderson at the plate.

Hohn and Cox traded verbal barbs for about a minute before the Braves manager was ejected, throwing his hands in the air and marching to the clubhouse.

Notes: Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom (elbow) pitched one hitless inning Wednesday for Double-A Jacksonville. He will pitch there again today and may rejoin the Marlins this weekend, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ... Gonzalez returned from a one-game suspension that was handed out after a player from each team was hit by a pitch in the Marlins-Dodgers game Sunday.

SideBar: Braves at Marlins

When: Today, 7:10 p.m.

Where: Miami

TV: SportSouth