Johnson looks like old self in win

Johnson looks like old self in win

Johnson looks like old self in win
CLEVELAND -- A revamped Marlins lineup stepped up on a day Josh Johnson showed signs of his former All-Star self.

Greg Dobbs delivered two doubles, three hits and an RBI, while Logan Morrison collected a run-scoring double as the Marlins held off the Indians, 5-3, on Sunday in front of 23,668 at Progressive Field.

Shut out on Saturday, Miami was in need of a boost, especially after center fielder Emilio Bonifacio (sprained left thumb) was placed on the disabled list, and first baseman Gaby Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

Shortly before the start of Sunday's game, second baseman Omar Infante informed the club that his grandfather had passed away. Infante was excused for a few days to attend the funeral.

"A lot of things happened," Dobbs said. "That being said, our main focus is on the field. All our thoughts and prayers go out to Omar, of course. He's part of our family. We're all family in here. When one guy has a loss, we all feel a loss in here. We're praying for him and his family that they all get through."

Five players in the lineup on Sunday were not starters for Miami on Opening Day. Still, they used a three-run eighth inning to provide a cushion on a day Johnson gave up one run on five hits in seven innings.

"We cannot be sitting here and feeling sorry for us, like, 'Oh, wow, we're missing three or four guys.' Who cares?," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "They're not here, they're not here. We have to count on the guys who are here. I believe the guys here can do their job."

The Marlins scored eight runs total over the weekend, but took two of three at the Indians, while capping a 3-2 road trip.

There was some drama in the ninth when the Indians, trailing by four runs, chipped back with two unearned runs. Carlos Santana reached on Dobbs' error to open the ninth off Randy Choate, who also worked the eighth.

After Johnny Damon's one-out single, Heath Bell entered. Jose Lopez delivered an RBI double. A key moment in the inning was when Casey Kotchman grounded a ball up the middle. Donnie Murphy, starting at second in place of Infante, made a nice back-handed play to retire Kotchman. A run scored, but Bell had the second out.

"I think that was the play of the game," Guillen said. "The ground ball going up the middle, and [Murphy] threw the guy out. A lot of guys don't see it that way, but I think that was the biggest play we made all day. If that guy makes it to first base, it's a different ballgame."

Johnson, who threw 104 pitches, won his second straight start after going a span of 16-straight starts over two seasons without a victory.

"He's getting back to the JJ that we all know who can absolutely dominate," Dobbs said. "Playing behind him today was reminiscent of last year, when he would just go out and dominate. Every time he went out we had a feeling we were winning. It's win day today. A lot of credit goes to him."

Now 50-26 in his career, Johnson becomes the third Miami pitcher to reach the 50-win plateau. The two-time All-Star joins Ricky Nolasco and Dontrelle Willis, who are tied with 68.

It took a group effort, with contributions from players who haven't seen much action, to help Johnson get his second win of the season.

"That's just how we are," Johnson said. "We never give up, we never are going to give in. We're going to battle. As nitty and gritty as we are, there are a lot of characteristics on this team that we haven't had in the past. We'll do whatever it takes to win -- defense, timely hitting. Whatever it takes, we're going to do it."

The Marlins needed to see the JJ of old because he was matched against Cleveland right-hander Derek Lowe, who is now 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA after the loss.

Lowe, coming off a 127-pitch complete-game shutout against the Twins, worked six innings. The veteran exited after 94 pitches, and his team trailing by a run.

"We couldn't do much offensively," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Earlier in the game, our approach against Johnson wasn't the best. We were a little bit over-aggressive, and he got the best of us."

Jose Reyes led off the game with a double, and he was moved to third on Bryan Petersen's sacrifice bunt. Miami manufactured the early lead on Hanley Ramirez's RBI groundout to second.

In the third inning, the Marlins used a two-out rally to make it 2-0. Ramirez doubled and scored on Dobbs' RBI double to right-center field.

The Indians chipped back with a run in the fifth. Michael Brantley singled to open the inning, and he stole second. With one out, Lopez delivered an RBI single to right.

In the seventh inning, Johnson worked out of a jam to preserve a 2-1 advantage. Santana singled to open the inning, and with two outs, Lopez's double to left put runners on second and third. Kotchman pinch-hit for Lou Marson.

After falling behind 3-0 to Kotchman, Johnson ran the count full, before he used a changeup to get an inning-ending grounder to third.

"I went 3-0," Johnson said. "I just missed on a couple of pitches. On 3-0, I threw a fastball for a strike. I went to the changeup. I figured, if it's a good time to use it, it's going to be there. I've got a lefty up there, and he's going to try to drive those runs in and be aggressive."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.