JJ gets back on the winning track

MIAMI — Seeing what the rest of the rotation has been doing served as motivation for Josh Johnson.

On Tuesday night, the Marlins’ two-time All-Star finally was rewarded. He got into the win column for the first time in 13 months.

Miami defeated the Pirates, 6-2, at Marlins Park with Johnson (1-3) picking up his first victory since also beating Pittsburgh on April 19, 2011.

JJ gave up two runs in seven innings, striking out six.

As a rotation, the Marlins have 28 quality starts, which is tied with the Phillies for the most in the Majors.

“I just want to be part of it,” Johnson said. “What they’re doing is incredible. I want to be part of it, and do what they’re doing. Keep rolling into the next start.”

Johnson actually was one strike away from winning his first game a week ago at Houston. In a May 9 start at Minute Maid Park, the right-hander also gave up two runs in seven innings with six strikeouts. The Marlins led in the ninth inning, and Steve Cishek had two strikes and two outs before surrendering the tying single. The Marlins did win that day in extra innings.

Johnson credits his curveball for helping him get through Tuesday’s start. His slider, which has been outstanding in the past, wasn’t as sharp against the Pirates.

The radar readings at Marlins Park were down on Tuesday, and there were no velocity readings on MLB.com’s GameDay tracker.

But, according to evaluators at the game, Johnson’s velocity was in the 91-94 mph range, which is where he has been consistently all year.

The stretch the Marlins’ starters are going through, Johnson said, is the most impressive since he joined the rotation in 2006. There was a period in ’06 when all the starters began to click. That year, the team rebounded from being 20 games under to having a winning record for a short time in September.

Four of the five starters during that time were rookies — Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Scott Olsen. Dontrelle Willis was the veteran.

“Maybe in ’06 we had a good little stretch when we were 20 under, and we were able to turn it around,” Johnson said. “I think this is better. Guys are working deeper into games. Every one of us can go out there and throw a complete game. It’s fun to watch.”

Joe Frisaro




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