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Josh Johnson Throws Braves for a Curve

   ATLANTA -- Not that the Braves needed any further proof of Josh Johnson's skills. But the ace of the Marlins gave them something else to think about for the future when he not only flirted with a no-hitter in Wednesday's 5-1 victory at Turner Field, but showed them something new: a curveball.

   Johnson has been working on the pitch, incorporating it little by little into an already potent mix that includes a fastball, slider and changeup. But in throwing the curve six or seven times during his latest gem, he caught the attention of the Braves.

    "I thought, 'Okay, he's got a curveball now,'" said Braves veteran Chipper Jones. "I hope he doesn't throw that to me too many more times."

    Said Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez, Johnson's former manager with the Marlins: "He's thrown in a different wrinkle from what I've seen. That's the sign of a good pitcher."

    Johnson befuddled the Braves all night, taking a no-hitter into the eighth before Freddie Freeman broke it up with a one-out double past third baseman Greg Dobbs and down the line in left.

     While Johnson's pitch count was reaching code red level, manager Edwin Rodriguez said he planned to keep him on the mound as long as he was working on the no-hitter. Freeman's double put that issue to rest, and Johnson was lifted immediately after throwing 109 pitches.

     And some of those pitches were curves.

     "It's been getting better and better," Johnson said.