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Johnson's gem helps Marlins beat Rockies 6-5

Forida Marlins' Hanley Ramirez hits a single against the Colorado Rockies.
Forida Marlins' Hanley Ramirez hits a single against the Colorado Rockies.
Alan Diaz, Associated Press

MIAMI — The third and final standing ovation for Josh Johnson was the loudest.

After allowing only one hit in 7 1-3 innings, Johnson left the game to a big roar from the small crowd. He helped the Florida Marlins tighten the NL wild-card race Friday night by beating the Colorado Rockies 6-5.

Johnson (12-2) didn't give up a hit until Garrett Atkins homered with two outs in the seventh. That was the only run off the Marlins' right-hander, who allowed three walks and finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts.

"The fastball was kind of exploding," Johnson said. "When you have those days, you just want to keep throwing and keep throwing."

The Marlins won for the seventh time in eight games and climbed within two games of the Rockies, who lead the wild-card race.

"It's good to set the tone for the series," Johnson said. "That's what we needed."

Chris Iannetta hit a three-run homer in the ninth before Leo Nunez completed a four-hitter by retiring pinch-hitter Todd Helton for his 13th save in 17 chances.

The crowd of 15,965 was so sedate early that spectators in the club seats could hear fielders calling for popups. But as the game progressed, there were plenty of cheers for Johnson.

When Atkins' drive cleared the left-field scoreboard for his eighth homer, the crowd responded by giving Johnson a standing ovation. He received another when he struck out Ian Stewart to end the inning, and a third when he left the game.

"When I came out of the game, it was a great feeling," Johnson said. "It's something you don't have happen very often. You have to cherish the times it happens."

With a fastball that reached 96 mph, Johnson threw 114 pitches on an 86-degree night.

"He was spectacular," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "He gave us very little to take a quality swing at."

Johnson hasn't thrown a no-hitter since he was 7, and he said he began thinking about the possibility in the fourth inning. His teammates were thinking no-hitter, too — none of them would sit near Johnson in the dugout, fearful of jinxing him.

His bid ended with Florida leading 3-0, when he threw a 3-2 fastball to Atkins.

"I didn't want to walk him," Johnson said. "I thought, 'All right, let's see what he can do.' And he hit it out. We were still winning, so I was OK."

Atkins agreed he hit a fat pitch.

"It was a little elevated and down the middle," Atkins said. "I was just happy to break up the no-hitter."

Johnson stymied a Colorado team that entered the game with the second-highest batting average in the majors this month at .315.

"They were all frustrated," Marlins catcher John Baker said. "He was playing video games, pressing buttons. That's what it looked like. It was a lot of fun for me."

Dan Uggla hit his 21st homer for the Marlins, who had 10 hits, extending their streak of consecutive games with at least 10 to a club-record 11 games. The last team with a streak that long was Boston in May 2008.

Nick Johnson contributed an RBI double and a sacrifice fly, and NL batting leader Hanley Ramirez went 2 for 4 with a walk. But Chris Coghlan went 0 for 4, ending his career-high 12-game hitting streak.

Johnson won his fifth consecutive decision. He is 19-3 since returning in July 2008 from an elbow injury that sidelined him for more than a year and required reconstructive surgery.

"He's unbelievable," Ramirez said. "We're glad we're on the same team so we don't have to face him."

Colorado's Jason Hammel (7-7) struggled from the start. He lasted only four innings, throwing 95 pitches and allowing three runs.

NOTES: Before the game, the Marlins recalled RHP Cristhian Martinez from Double-A Jacksonville. ... Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki and OF Dexter Fowler visited Miami Dolphins training camp Friday and met with Bill Parcells, a big baseball fan. "He wanted to talk about baseball, and I wanted to talk about football," said Tulowitzki, who grew up a Dolphins fan and bought Dolphins T-shirts for some of his teammates. ... Fowler and Helton were held out of the starting lineup. ... Marlins OF Cody Ross, who left Thursday's game with back spasms, was back in the lineup.