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Braves hope Johnson's hot bat can spur offense

ST. LOUIS -- Even though the Braves fell, 10-4, to San Francisco on Wednesday, Chris Johnson's bat continued to offer encouragement to a team looking for offensive consistency.

Johnson had a pair of RBI doubles against the Giants and hoped to continue his hot hitting as the Braves opened a weekend series at St. Louis on Friday night.

Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez wasn't worried about Johnson's slow start to the season.

"Every good hitter goes through a funk," Gonzalez said. "Miguel Cabrera won a Triple Crown two years ago. I'm sure if you look, there was a time when he went 1-for-12."

Johnson spent most of last season in the thick of the National League batting title race, finishing with a .321 average.

This season, he hit just .230 in April but has picked it up in May. After his 2-for-3 performance Wednesday, Johnson's average was up to .279.

And with Johnson's surge, the Braves' offense is showing signs of life. Johnson has a .455 average over the last six games, in which Atlanta has averaged 3.5 runs. The Braves averaged just 1.5 runs the previous six games.

"I think it's big for everybody to keep going, not just [Freddie] Freeman or Johnson," Gonzalez said. "We've been kind of just hitting on two cylinders every night. Freeman and then you've got maybe another guy, maybe [Andrelton] Simmons will get a base hit or B.J. [Upton] will drive in a run. Not every offense is going to be hitting on seven cylinders or eight cylinders or whatever you want. There's going to be an out in the lineup someplace. Somebody is going to be struggling. We just need to get more of those guys swinging the bat. We need to get those guys hot all together."

Joe Harris is a contributor to
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