Atlanta, GA – Chris Johnson singled home Jordan Schafer in the ninth inning to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
Schafer singled then stole second with one out in the final frame. After Justin Upton flew out to center, reliever Joe Smith (5-2) intentionally walked Freddie Freeman to get to Johnson, who ripped a line drive to left field.
The speedy Schafer raced around third and slid across the plate just ahead of Michael Brantley's throw.
"Anytime someone gets walked to get to you, although obviously it is not personal with Freddie Freeman in front of me and a base open, you want to try and come up big. That is what I did," Johnson said.
Schafer went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two stolen bases, and Brian McCann had two hits and a run scored for the NL East leaders, winners in three straight.
Craig Kimbrel (3-2) earned the win with a perfect ninth inning. Starter Paul Maholm gave up one run, which came on a homer to Mike Aviles, and six hits over six innings.
Aviles drove in both runs for the Indians, who are in danger of being swept in this three-game series.
"This was not the easiest of losses. It was a well-pitched game. They had a couple of really nice placed hits, but when you get in situations like that against a good team it is always hard to score runs," Aviles said. "We just have to find a way to score runs, it is the only way you're going to win."
Justin Masterson was tagged for two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out six over six innings in the start for Cleveland.
Atlanta took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. McCann singled and Andrelton Simmons doubled with two outs to put runners at second and third. Maholm then drew a walk to load the bases for Schafer, who smacked a single through the hole on the left side to bring McCann and Simmons to the plate.
Aviles' blast in the fourth made it 2-1.
The Indians tied the game in the eighth inning. Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis opened the frame with back-to-back singles against Luis Avilan. After Carlos Santana popped out, Asdrubal Cabrera walked to load the bases for Aviles, who lifted a sacrifice fly to deep right field.
Johnson has eight game-winning RBI this season, but it was the first walk-off hit of his career ... Maholm is winless over his last five starts with his last victory coming on June 30 ... The Braves were 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position ... Cabrera had his eight-game hitting streak snapped after going 0-for-3 ... The Tribe went 0-for-7 with RISP ... Brantley stole his 14th base of the season.