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Article:The Tomahawk Times - Johnson's pinch-slam leads Braves over Mets, 11-5

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ATLANTA -- Kelly Johnson came off the bench in the seventh inning to belt a pinch-hit grand slam that helped propel the Atlanta Braves to an 11-5 victory over the New York Mets in a rainy afternoon affair at Turner Field.

"To be able to have myself ready for that kind of situation is nice," said Johnson, who has missed most the homestand with an aching knee. "You can easily go in there and feel like you haven't seen live pitching in a while, but I felt pretty good."

Johnson drove a full-count fastball deep in the right field bleachers for his first homer of the season, providing the Braves with all the insurance they would need to stave off their rivals: the New York Mets.

"I'm surprised half the stadium knew my name [since] I hadn't been in there in a while," joked Johnson of the rabid fan reception and subsequent curtain call following the blast.

Entering the game with just three singles in 15 previous pinch-hit opportunities, Johnson made the most of Saturday's chance. It marks his second career grand slam and first pinch-hit homer of his career.

"I've not generally been a good pinch-hitter," said Johnson. "Blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while, so I'll take it."

The Braves offense enjoyed a 15-hit attack against five Mets hurlers, including starter John Maine (0-1). Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur both had three hits on the day while Mark Teixeira and Mark Kotsay each collected a pair of safeties.

New York was unable to keep Tim Hudson on the ropes and trailed by a 4-1 score after four innings of play. Jose Reyes collected one of the more unusual singles during a fifth inning Mets rally. His looping line drive to center was gloved by a diving Kotsay, who appeared to start an inning ending double play with a throw back to second.

Upon further discussion, umpires ruled that Kotsay had trapped the ball and that it would in fact be an RBI-single and a dead ball, reloading the bases for the Mets. Settling back in after a brief delay, Hudson was able to induce a pair of ground balls that plated the third Mets run but allowed Atlanta to escape the frame with a 4-3 lead.

Hudson (1-0) gave the Braves six gritty innings despite the less than favorable pitching conditions, allowing three runs on six hits while not walking a single batter and striking out four.

"That's what you hope we can do with this club," said Hudson of the winning effort. "I think we have a dangerous ballclub."

Maine had a rough go in his first start of the season for New York, lasting just four innings and giving up four runs on eight hits and three walks. In addition to the four-run seventh against Sosa, Atlanta tacked on two more when Francoeur doubled in a pair against Nelson Figueroa in the eighth.

On Deck: The pitching match-up that everyone was hoping for was finally made official just prior to Saturday's game. John Smoltz will make his first start of the season, matching up with New York ace Johan Santana. Game time is set for 1:30 PM EST.

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