The Gwinnett Braves totaled five home runs and outscored the Pawtucket Red Sox in the third of a four game series Monday, 11-8. The clubs combined for 19 runs on 30 hits in the slugfest, which included a ninth inning that saw Gwinnett plate three runs on two hits, both home runs, followed by Pawtucket scoring four runs of their own on six hits in the home half of the inning. Gwinnett remains 2.5 games behind the Charlotte Knights for the lead in the International League South due to the Knights 4-2 win over Columbus.
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Yohan Flande (3-4), got the call for the G-Braves and worked 5.0 innings for the win. The 26-year old allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits, walked three and struck out four. Flande exited the game with Gwinnett up 7-2. Buddy Carlyle (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO) and Dusty Hughes (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR) pitched the G-Braves into the ninth with an 8-4 advantage.
Gwinnett tacked on three more runs to the lead in the top of the ninth before Adam Russell took the hill to work the ninth. With the G-Braves on top by a 12-4 count, Russell got touched up for six hits and four runs, all earned, before being pulled in favor of Anthony Varvaro. Varvaro struck out both batters he faced to end the game and earn his second save this season.
Gwinnett scored three in their first at-bat and never trailed in this one. Ernesto Mejia delivered the big blow in the inning when he connected off Red Sox starter Bill Buckner (L, 0-1) for a homerun to left center with Tyler Pastornicky on base. Pastornicky was on base after singling to score Luis Durango, who also reached base on a single. It was the big first baseman’s third homer in the series (one in each game) and brings his total to 12 for the 2012 campaign.
Lance Zawadzki pushed the lead to 4-0 when he led off the second with a solo shot to right. In his next at-bat the second baseman connected for his second HR of the game and third of the year to add another run to the lead. Gwinnett held a 5-0 lead before the Red Sox scored their first run, which came in the bottom of the inning when former G-Brave Mauro Gomez scored on an Alex Hassan double that cut the lead 5-1.
Zawadzki came to bat in the fifth inning with bases full of G-Braves and two outs and again came through, this time with a single that drove in two more and stretched the lead to 7-1. The Red Sox used two hits and a walk to score their second run, cutting the deficit to 7-2 going to the sixth.
Jose Constanza, recently reassigned from Atlanta to make room for Chipper Jones return to the Braves, singled to lead off the next inning, Durango walked, and a double steal moved them to second and third. Pastornicky came to the dish and grounded out to short, scoring Constanza. Durango was stranded at third when Mejia and Stefan Gartrell struck out, ending the inning with Gwinnett up 8-2 heading to the bottom of the inning.
Pawtucket used back-to-back doubles by Lars Anderson and Hassan to plate their third run before Carlyle retired the next three batters, the final two on swinging strike outs. Anderson cut the lead to 8-4 in the eighth when he homered off Hughes.
Gwinnett’s biggest inning came in the top of the ninth, as Mejia led off the inning being hit-by-a-pitch from reliever Clayton Mortensen. Felix Pie followed with a two-run homer, his first of the season, to up the lead to 10-4. Josh Wilson then blasted a solo home run just two batters later to make it 11-4 Gwinnett heading to the bottom of the ninth.
In the final frame, the Paw Sox touched Russell for six hit and four runs in only one third of an inning. The Sox had runners on second and third and the tying run at the plate, when the G-Braves made the call for Varvaro. The New York native calmly struck out Tony Thomas and pinch-hitter Nate Spears to end the threat and the game.
Coyners, Georgia, native Billy Buckner (L, 0-1) picked up the loss. The PawSox starter worked 4.2 innings and gave up nine hits, seven earned runs, with three walks. He also gave up three of the G-Braves five homers. Will Inman worked 0.1 of an inning with one hit, one walk and one strikeout. Daniel Bard pitched the sixth and gave up one hit, one earned run with one walk and two strikeouts. Mortensen worked the final three innings and surrendered three hits, two homers, three earned runs and struck out two.
Gwinnett had a 14-hit night, led by Zawadzki who was 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs. Durango was 3-for-4 and Pastornicky, Mejia and Wilson each collected two hits.
The Paw Sox had 16 hits led by Anderson and Hassan who each had three hits. Ryan Kalish, Ryan Lavarnway and Gomez all registered multiple-hit games.
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The Gwinnett Braves (35-30) and Pawtucket Red Sox (40-25) will play the finale of their four-game series on Tuesday night. Right-hander Kris Medlen (0-1, 4.91) is scheduled to start for the G-Braves against the Paw Sox right-hander Brandon Duckworth (6-1, 4.22). First pitch set for 7:05 p.m. from McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Listen to the broadcast on WDUN AM 550 in Gainesville, Georgia with Tony Schiavone calling the play-by-play.
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