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Johnson steps in for Grilli and closes out win

Right-hander works scoreless ninth for save vs. Reds

CINCINNATI -- The Braves exited Sunday afternoon's loss to the Nationals knowing they might have preserved their eighth-inning lead had Jim Johnson not been held back to serve as the closer in place of Jason Grilli, who has battled a sore back over the past three days.

But instead of rushing Grilli back into action, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to give his veteran closer one more day of rest. His decision proved to be prudent when Johnson showed he can still handle the ninth inning by locking down Monday night's 2-1 win over the Reds.

When Gonzalez met with reporters late Monday afternoon, he indicated Grilli would be available if a save situation arose. But after meeting with his trainers a short time later, he opted not to rush the 38-year-old reliever back into action.

"It was my decision to give him one more day," Gonzalez said. "He told us he could probably go. So, let's just give him one more day to make sure. Everything was good with him, I just wanted to give him one more day."

Johnson, who is just two years removed from a second consecutive 50-save season, worked a scoreless ninth to notch the save in place of Grilli, who began feeling some back discomfort after returning to his hotel after Friday night's game in Washington, D.C.

With Grilli unavailable on Sunday and Johnson being reserved for a save situation, the Braves saw rookie reliever Cody Martin blow a one-run, eighth-inning lead.

Grilli, who has converted nine of his 10 save opportunities, will likely be available again as early as Tuesday.

"[Grilli] told me, 'I'm a 38-year-old guy, sometimes [a back] can be cranky,'" Gonzalez said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Listen to his podcast.
Read More: Atlanta Braves, Jim Johnson, Jason Grilli