One bad pitch spoiled an otherwise solid night of pitching.
GreenJackets reliever Daniel Giese left a fastball up in the zone, and Macon shortstop Kelly Johnson left the yard, connecting for a ninth-inning home run that yielded the game's only run in a 1-0 Braves victory Thursday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
The opener of the four-game series between the clubs was dominated by strong pitching and solid defense, with Macon starter Chris Waters and reliever Quentin Jones winning the showdown with Jackets ace Seung Song and Giese.
Waters, a fifth-round draft pick by Atlanta last year, tossed eight innings of four-hit ball to pick up his second victory. The 20-year-old left-hander had a no-hitter for 4â innings, and later worked out of a few jams to snap the Braves' three-game losing skid.
One night after showing signs of life at the plate with 11 hits in a 5-1 win over first-place Columbus, the Jackets managed only four hits Thursday and stranded seven runners on base, including five in the seventh and eighth innings.
"It was just one of those days when we hit the ball right at people," Jackets catcher Brian Esposito. "I don't think he really dominated us, it was just had one of those outing when you give up any ball, it's hit right at people and they make the out. We let him off the hook a little bit."
In contrast, Macon managed to find the holes for most of the night against Song. The 20-year-old Korean ace gave up a season-high eight hits in six innings of work, but he showed poise beyond his years in battling his way out of several jams.
He also again showed good command, issuing just one walk. In 36 innings this season, the right-hander has walked just five batters while striking out 36. His six shutout innings Thursday lowered his ERA to 1.00.
"He made a couple of mistakes as he went along there, but came back and was able to put people away when he wanted to," Jackets manager Mike Boulanger said. "That was key."
Aside from the home run allowed to Johnson, Giese also was impressive.
He gave up just one other hit and did not walk a batter while striking out three in three innings of relief, taking a hard-luck loss to fall to 2-2.
Johnson, a first-round pick by Atlanta last year, has been giving opposing pitchers fits all season. For the 18-year-old Austin, Texas, native, the home run was his eighth of the year. He began the night tied for the South Atlantic League lead in homers.
"It's just one of those things where he got a pitch to hit and he drove it," Boulanger said. "We pitched well tonight, played great defense, but the key tonight was they got a key hit and we didn't. To me, that's all it boils down to."
Braves 1, GreenJackets 0
Player of the game: Macon starter Chris Waters held the Jackets to four hits and no runs in eight innings of work to improve to 2-1.
Turning point: Braves shortstop Kelly Johnson, a first-round draft pick by Atlanta last year, went 2-for-4, including a double and a solo home run in the ninth to produce the game's only run.
Ballpark fun: A group of local Harley Davidson owners paraded their motorcycles on the field before the game.
Today's game: Macon Braves (14-14) vs. GreenJackets (17-11), 7:15 p.m., Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Probable starters: Macon - RHP Kenny Nelson (3-1, 3.77); Augusta - RHP Matt Thompson (3-1, 1.80).
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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