Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson (center) celebrates with catcher Gerald Laird (left) and pitcher Craig Kimbrel (right) after the Braves beat the Brewers 1-0 at Miller Park. (USA TODAY Sports: Benny Sieu)
MILWAUKEE — Third baseman Chris Johnson hit his first home run of the season and Aaron Harang took a no-hitter into the seventh as the Braves beat the Brewers 1-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.
Johnson’s home run in the seventh inning broke up a no-hit bid by Milwaukee right-hander Matt Garza, who was brilliant in his Brewers debut, scattering two hits and a walk over eight innings with seven strikeouts.
Harang didn’t join the Braves (2-1) until March 25, just a day after he was let go by the Cleveland Indians, who signed him to a non-roster deal over the winter.
The 35-year-old had an average spring, posting a 2-1 record and 4.91 ERA in five games (three starts) but was on from the start Wednesday.
Harang (1-0) retired his first seven batters before walking Brewers first baseman Lyle Overbay in the third and then sat the next 11 down in order.
The Brewers finally got one past Harang in the seventh, when left fielder Logan Schafer led off with a single up the middle.
Schafer was retired when Braun bounced into a fielder’s choice but Ramirez moved Braun to third with a base hit to right, putting runners at the corners with one out.
Harang would get catcher Jonathan Lucroy to pop out to second before giving way to left-hander Luis Avilan.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke then sent Rickie Weeks to pinch-hit for the Scooter Gennett, a left-hander, but Weeks ended the threat with a weak grounder to third.
The punchless offense provided a bittersweet Milwaukee debut for Garza.
Signed to a franchise-record $52 million deal in January, Garza was outstanding through the first 6 2/3 innings, allowing just a fourth-inning walk to first baseman Feddie Freeman and striking out six.
Garza got help from his defense, too, especially in the seventh when third baseman Aramis Ramirez made a nice grab of B.J. Upton’s sharp grounder to lead off the inning, just before Johnson’s home run.
Garza (0-1) likely would have come back out for the ninth, but Milwaukee needed offense before facing Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.
Right fielder Jason Heyward came through with a defensive gem, making a diving grab that robbed center fielder Carlos Gomez of a potential double as Kimbrel picked up his second save in as many games.
NOTES: Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez went 1-for-3 Wednesday to improve to .333 (22-for-66) lifetime against Braves RHP Aaron Harang. … The Brewers are 8-3 against the Braves in their last 11 meetings, including six shutouts. … Braves closer Craig Kimbrel needs 14 saves to tie John Smoltz (154) for first place on the franchise’s all-time list. … Milwaukee SS Jean Segura was not in the lineup Wednesday. Manager Ron Roenicke said it was a planned day off to avoid a setback with Segura’s shoulder, which has been sore for much of spring training.