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Braves continue to roll, defeat struggling Athletics

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 16 2014 10:44:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 16 2014 10:44:41 PM CDT

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves know all about bad road trips. Now the Oakland Athletics are going through one.

Third baseman Chris Johnson went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, and the Braves dropped Oakland to 1-5 on its road swing with a 4-3 interleague victory Saturday night at Turner Field.

The loss dropped the A's out of first place by percentage points in the American League West behind the Los Angeles Angels.

The A's (73-50) came into the series with the best record in the majors, but fell for the sixth time in seven games overall. They scored three runs or fewer in all of the defeats.

"We haven't really been through a tough stretch all year other than a sweep here and there (which) we responded very well to," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're just going through a tough stretch right now."

Atlanta (63-60) went 0-8 on its most recent road trip and lost 12 of 15 games coming into the series with Oakland.

"We've won the series. Now maybe we can (be) greedy," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team is trying to chase down Washington in the National League East.

"It's not about winning series anymore," Johnson said. "It's about trying to win every game."

Oakland made it interesting in the ninth inning.

Craig Kimbrel recorded his 36th save in 40 opportunities, but A's right fielder Josh Reddick gave Braves fans an anxious moment when he hit a drive to the left-field fence leading off the inning and then left fielder Alberto Callaspo walked.

Pinch-hitter Derek Norris hit a foul pop that Johnson caught to end the game.

Johnson has 22 RBIs over his past 20 games, and the three-hit outing was his 12th of the season.

"He's swinging the bat real well right now," Gonzalez said.

Braves starter Julio Teheran (11-9) snapped a three-game losing streak, going six innings and allowing four hits and three walks. The only damage against the right-hander came on a two-run homer by first baseman Stephen Vogt in the sixth inning.

Oakland's Sonny Gray (12-7) lost his fourth consecutive start after a six-game winning streak. The right-hander gave up eight hits and four runs while striking out five and walking one in 5 1/3 innings.

Vogt's homer, which made it a 3-2 game, followed a two-out walk in the sixth and came on a 3-2 fastball from Teheran. B.J. Upton leaped at the center-field fence, but Vogt's eighth homer of the season was out of his reach.

The Braves came back with a run in the bottom of the inning when Johnson singled home left fielder Justin Upton.

That was needed when A's catcher John Jaso hit a one-out homer in the eighth inning off reliever Jordan Walden. The blast to center field came on a 3-2 fastball that registered 96 mph. It was Jaso's ninth of the year.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, who hit a three-run homer in the series opener, had an RBI double in the first inning and then scored on a two-out single by Johnson as the Braves opened a quick lead.

Atlanta had three hits in the first inning and three in the fourth, adding a run on an RBI single by shortstop Andrelton Simmons to take a 3-0 lead.

The A's had trouble hitting Teheran early and didn't fare that well when they got on base.

Teheran caught Reddick, who had walked, leaning off first base in the second inning for his third pickoff in two starts and his fifth of the season. He led the majors with eight pickoffs last year.

NOTES: The teams wore throwback replica uniforms from the 1914 World Series, when the Braves were in Boston and the Athletics in Philadelphia. Known as the "Miracle" Braves because of their turnaround during the regular season, Boston swept the World Series in four games. ... The game drew a crowd of 40,760. ... SS Andrelton Simmons, who missed Friday's game after having two abscessed teeth pulled, returned to the Atlanta lineup. ... Oakland LHP Jon Lester (13-7, 2.51 ERA) will try for his eighth consecutive victory when he faces LHP Mike Minor (4-8, 5.33 ERA) in the series finale Sunday night. Lester has won all three starts for the A's since being acquired from the Boston Red Sox on July 31. ... The A's will be featured on an ESPN Sunday night telecast for the first time since 2006. ... Braves rookie RHP Shae Simmons (shoulder) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, throwing one scoreless inning.