Johnson Returns From Suspension To Overpower Struggling Braves

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Jason Giambi homered twice and drove in five runs, Randy Johnson tossed seven shutout innings, and the Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 last night.

Johnson (9-6) allowed four hits, struck out a season-high nine, and didn’t walk a batter. He didn’t allow a runner past first base until Edgar Renteria went to third on Chipper Jones’s two-out single in the sixth.

The left-hander then struck out Andruw Jones to get out of the inning. Johnson recorded seven strikeouts in his last three innings. It was his first start against the Braves since he threw a perfect game for Arizona in a 2-0 win at Atlanta on May 18, 2004.

Andy Phillips went 3-for-3 and Derek Jeter scored two runs on his 32nd birthday for the Yankees, who have won five of six.

Johnson retired eight in a row before Matt Diaz reached on an error by third baseman Alex Rodriguez with one out in the fifth. The Big Unit then struck out Wilson Betemit and Adam LaRoche to get out of the inning.

Johnson was pitching on six days’ rest after serving a five-game suspension for throwing at Cleveland’s Eduardo Perez on June 14.

Mariano Rivera got the last two outs for his 17th save in 19 chances.

The Yankees scored five runs in the first two innings against Tim Hudson (6-7), who lost his third consecutive start and dropped to 1-4 in June.

Jeter singled with two outs in the first and Giambi followed with a drive to right. The Yankees loaded the bases after Giambi’s 21st homer but Hudson got Bubba Crosby to line out to end the inning.

Giambi hit a three-run homer on a full-count pitch from Hudson with two outs in the second to make it 5-0.

Hudson, who was Giambi’s teammate in Oakland for three seasons,shut out the Yankees over the next three innings. He allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out one. He has given up 14 runs in his last 19 innings.

Chipper Jones hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning and went 3-for-4 for Atlanta.

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