LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - In a night when Atlanta Braves' second baseman Dan Uggla homered and left-hander Sean Gilmartin struck out a season-high seven batters for Gwinnett, it was the Norfolk Tides that stole the show. Norfolk (73-64) tied the game in the eighth and scored twice in the 12th to stun the Gwinnett Braves (57-81), 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Gwinnett got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Sean Kazmar led off with a single, stole second base with two outs and scored on an RBI single by Alden Carrithers.
Norfolk second baseman Jonathan Schoop evened it up at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, taking a Gilmartin offering over the left-center fence for a solo home run.
Uggla, playing in his second rehab game for Gwinnett, put the G-Braves on top in the bottom of the fifth. He belted a 2-1 fastball from Tides' right-hander Steve Johnson over the left field fence for a solo home run, making it 2-1. Uggla's blast, his first career Triple-A hit, snapped a 17-game homerless streak for Gwinnett. Ernesto Mejia's solo homer on August 8 at Norfolk had been the last round tripper hit by a G-Brave.
Uggla, who had been 0-for-5 with four strikeouts leading up to the at-bat, was just getting back into his grove.
"My vision wasn't horrible," said Uggla. "But when you're trying to hit and recognize pitches and you're used to seeing 20/15 and then you can't, it's tough."
It would get easier on Tuesday night, as Uggla would also single to left in the seventh inning before exiting for pinch runner Phil Gosselin. He finished the night 2-for-4 with the homer and one RBI.
"I'm glad I got it done, I'm glad I'm back," said Uggla. "I'm 100% ready to get back (to Atlanta)."
While Uggla was prepping for his return to the Major Leagues, the Tides weren't ready to drop the game without a fight.
In the top of the eighth inning, Yamaico Navarro took a 3-0 pitch from right-hander Cody Martin over the left field fence for a solo homer, tying the game at 2-2 and spoiling a solid start by Gilmartin.
Gwinnett had an opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with runners at second and third and two outs, but Brandon Boggs' deep fly ball to left-center was flagged down by center fielder Xavier Avery, sending the game to extras.
Norfolk took the lead in the top of the 12th. Schoop singled off of right-hander Wirfin Obispo (L, 2-4) to start the frame. He advanced to second on a one-out single by Steve Clevenger and advanced to third on a wild pitch, putting runners on second and third with one out. With left-hander Ryan Buchter on the mound and the infield drawn in, Avery hit a grounder to second base that was misplayed by Gosselin, allowing both runners to score.
Mejia doubled and scored on an RBI groundout by Leonard in the bottom of the 12th, but it wasn't enough as the G-Braves dropped their second-straight game to the Tides.
Gilmartin went 6.0 innings for Gwinnett, scattering two hits, allowing one earned run and striking out a season-high seven. Obispo suffered the loss, allowing one run on two hits in 1.2 innings.
The Tides bullpen was brilliant following Johnson's 4.1 innings of two-run ball. Mike Belfiore, Tim Alderson, Mark Hendrickson and Jairo Asensio combined on 7.2 innings of scoreless relief. Hendrickson (W, 4-3) recorded the victory, hurling 2.2 innings, allowing one hit and one walk. Asencio (S, 25) racked up the save, allowing one earned run on two hits and striking out two.
In addition to Uggla's performance, Leonard went 3-for-6 with an RBI for the G-Braves.
Eric Thames paced the Tides offense, going 2-for-3 with two singles and two walks. Schoop went 2-for-5 with the home run, two runs scored and one RBI.
The Gwinnett Braves return to action on Wednesday at 6:05 PM as they play host to the Durham Bulls. The first game of the three-game set will pit right-hander David Hale (6-7, 2.87) of the G-Braves against right-hander J.D. Martin (15-4, 2.84) of the Bulls. The radio broadcast will air on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM, while the television broadcast will air on CSS.
Wednesday night is "Winning Wednesday" at Coolray Field. Play along with Baseball Bingo for a chance to win great prizes! A fully cleared card will get you something extra special from the Gwinnett Braves. If a G-Braves player hits a grand slam in the fifth inning, one lucky fan will win $5,000! For tickets to all remaining Gwinnett Braves home games, call the Coolray Field Box Office at (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com.