MIAMI -- Coming off a disappointing conclusion to a key series against the Nationals, the Braves were looking to get healthy against a team and pitcher who had been struggling. But Josh Johnson and the Marlins nixed that plan.
Johnson proved he still has the ability to dominate, and the Braves did not put up much of a fight until coming up just short in the emotional ninth inning of Monday night's 2-1 loss to the Marlins.
"Josh Johnson was about as unhittable as I've ever seen him," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "Luckily for us, he got a blister. He was the dominant JJ tonight."
After Johnson was forced to exit after six nearly perfect innings because of a cut on his right middle finger, the Braves staged a ninth-inning rally that included three of their four hits and one of the most heated arguments the usually mild-mannered Fredi Gonzalez has staged during his days as Braves manager.
Michael Bourn and Martin Prado began the ninth inning with consecutive singles before Jason Heyward grounded into a disputed double play. After seeing first-base umpire Laz Diaz had made an out call at first base, Heyward slammed his batting helmet in right field, and Gonzalez let his emotions show during a fiery argument with the umpire.
Replays confirmed Heyward beat the throw to the base. Instead of having runners at the corners and one out, the Braves found themselves with a runner at third base with two outs. Bourn scored on Jones' two-out RBI single before Steve Cishek got Freddie Freeman to end the game with a fly ball that Scott Cousins had to slide to catch in center field.
"Unfortunately there are a handful to two handfuls of games every year that are decided by the men in black, and we didn't get the call at first on a pretty obvious call," Jones said. "That call at first base really prevented us from getting something going and putting some pressure on them. But it's no surprise to us and shouldn't be any surprise to anybody else."
With Johnson proving perfect into the fifth inning and Emilio Bonifacio aiding the Marlins with his first home run of the season, the Braves suffered their third consecutive loss since winning the first two games of this past weekend's series against the Nationals.
In addition, the Braves gained even more reason to dread playing on Mondays. While going winless in 12 games played on Mondays this year, they have batted .186 (71-for-382) and totaled just 18 runs.
"We didn't get it done," said Gonzalez, who chose not to provide much detail about his argument with Diaz.
Mike Minor seemed to encounter some misfortune when three consecutive soft singles allowed the Marlins to score before he had recorded his first out of the night. But the only other run the lefty surrendered during his seven-inning effort came when Bonifacio opened the second inning by pulling a full-count fastball over the left-center-field wall. The solo shot was the first home run the Marlins speedster hit in a span of 197 at-bats, going back to Sept. 25, 2011.
Minor, who has now allowed a team-high 21 home runs, allowed just the two runs and six hits in seven innings. The 24-year-old pitcher has posted a 2.33 ERA in three starts since entering July with some doubts about whether he would remain in Atlanta's starting rotation.
"Physically I felt good, but my command wasn't that great, even though it looked a little bit better than what it was," Minor said. "I wasn't making as quality of pitches that I wanted to."
Johnson, who had posted a 7.56 ERA in his previous three starts, allowed one hit and matched a season high with nine strikeouts in six scoreless innings. His impressive effort was limited to just 87 pitches because of the cut on his finger. "I felt in control the whole time," Johnson said. "I felt like I didn't have to work real hard with my delivery. Everything was clicking."
Brian McCann's two-out, fifth-inning single provided the Braves their only baserunner against Johnson, who has allowed two earned runs in 13 2/3 innings against Atlanta this year.
"I've faced JJ a number of times, and he's always tough on us," Jones said. "When Mac got the base hit, I went, 'Wooh,' because he had no-hit stuff, if not perfect-game stuff."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.