After losing 11-2 to the Charlotte Knights Saturday night, the Gwinnett Braves bounced back to split the two-game set by outscoring their division rivals 6-2 at Coolray Field Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Jair Jurrjens, making his second start for Gwinnett since being sent down from Atlanta late last month, had a solid outing, working eight innings to earn the win.
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The G-Braves plated three-runs in the first inning to give Jurrjens all the support he would need on this afternoon. Jose Constanza started things off by beating out a leadoff bunt then advanced to second on a throwing error by Knights catcher Hector Gimenez. After moving to third on a ground out off the bat of Luis Durango, Constanza scored the first run of the game when current IL Batter of the Week Stefan Gartrell singled to left. First baseman Ernesto Mejia stepped to the plate and connected for his fourth homerun of the season, scoring Gartrell ahead of him to give Gwinnett a 3-0 advantage after the first frame.
Stefan Gartrell named IL Batter of the Week
Charlotte wasted no time in getting back two of the runs in their next at-bat. Jurrjens surrendered three hits and a walk, including a double, to push two-runs across the dish and cut the Gwinnett lead to one, 3-2.
The score remained the same until the home half of the seventh when Gwinnett scored another run to extend their lead to 4-2. Charlotte helped the G-Braves cause by walking a batter and committing another error (one-of-three in the game), but team speed was a major factor in producing the run.
Greg Paiml walked with one out then stole second to bring Constanza to the plate. Paiml moved to third when Constanza grounded out to second baseman Tyler Kuhn. Durango then grounded to short but Osvaldo Martinez misplayed the chance, allowing Paiml to score. Durango then stole his 14th base of the year but was stranded at second base when Gartrell lined sharply to center for out three.
The G-Braves tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning, aided again by the Knights. The inning began with Mejia working Knights pitcher Jhan Marinez for a free-pass. With Joey Terdoslavich batting, Marinez threw a wild pitch that allowed Mejia to move to second base then Terdoslavich grounded out to first, pushing the big first baseman to third. Chris Marrero then singled to right scoring Mejia. Josh Wilson came to the plate with a runner on first and one out and grounded to short setting up a double play, but Martinez committed his second error on the throw and Gwinnett ended up with runners on first and third.
Gwinnett next scored on a double-steal that gave the home team the 6-2 lead that would become the final score. The Knights made a pitching change and Brian Bruney shut down Gwinnett by striking out J.C. Boscan and getting Paiml to pop out to Martinez.
Jurrjens finished with 8.0 innings pitched and allowed five hits, two runs (both earned), walked one and struck out three. The Atlanta All-Star lowered his ERA to 1.80. Cory Gearrin came on to start the ninth and allowed a hit while striking out two of the three batters he faced to secure the victory for the International League South Division leaders. Gwinnett now holds a 4.5 game lead on the second-place Knights.
Terry Doyle (L, 1-3) got the start for the Knights and allowed three runs on five hits over 6.0 innings for Charlotte. Right-hander Jhan Marinez yielded three more runs, two earned, over 1.1 innings.
Mejia led the way for the Gwinnett offense, going 2-for-3 with a double, home run, two RBI and two runs scored.
The Gwinnett Braves (19-10) host the Buffalo Bisons (17-13) for the start of a four-game series at Coolray Field on Monday. G-Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (2-1, 3.66) will oppose Buffalo righty Matt Harvey (2-1, 4.80) in a duel of top prospects, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM.
Listen to the G-Braves on WDUN AM 550 and 102.9 FM with Tony Schiavone calling the play by play. Fans can also follow at www.twitter.com/GwinnettBraves, on gametracker at www.gwinnettbraves.com and on MiLB TV at www.MiLB.com.
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