Johnson pierces win column for Smokies

Cubs' No. 8 prospect snaps three-game skid with six shutout innings

Pierce Johnson is 2-3 with a 1.63 in five July starts for Tennessee. (Andrew Green/Tennessee Smokies)

By Robert Emrich / | July 25, 2014 12:20 AM ET

Pierce Johnson finally got the results that matched his effort.

The Cubs' No. 8 prospect allowed just two hits and tied a season high with eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings as Double-A Tennessee beat Mississippi, 4-2, on Thursday.

Johnson gave up a second-inning single to Barrett Kleinknecht and another in the sixth to Kyle Wren. The 23-year-old right-hander walked three and threw 51 of his 81 pitches for strikes.

"I'm gonna say everything," Johnson said of what was working. "My catcher, [Luis] Flores, we were on the same page all night. Everything he put down, I felt confident in throwing. Everything was working, keeping the ball down gave us the most success."

For Johnson, the victory snapped a personal three-game losing streak during which he allowed six runs -- five earned -- over 14 1/3 innings.

"It feels pretty good," the Colorado native said. "I go out there every day and try to do my job. I'm going to do whatever I can for my team to win. It was [frustrating], at the same time I did my best so I couldn't complain. It's definitely nice to get the team a win and get us back on track in the standings."

Overall, Johnson is 3-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 11 Southern League appearances for the Smokies. The Missouri State University product has 49 strikeouts over 54 1 /3 innings and previously had fanned eight on May 8 against Birmingham. Johnson used his entire arsenal to match his season-best strikeout total.

"My slider was pretty good," he said. "I think I struck out people on my fastball, my cutter and my slider. I think mixing pitches really helped."

Addison Russell, the club's No. 3 prospect, collected two hits and two runs while making a sharp play at shortstop in the ninth to help seal the win.

"It was awesome," Johnson said of the defensive gem. "He's such a great player. It's always a pleasure to have him play behind me."

Albert Almora,'s No. 14 prospect, went 0-for-4 in his Double-A debut for the Smokies.

Tennessee's Frank Batista gave up one hit and fanned two while recording the final four outs to notch his sixth save.

Ryan Weber fell to 3-4 after giving up four runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings for the Braves.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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