LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - Despite a quality start from Aaron Blair , the Gwinnett Braves (43-44) offense couldn't back it up as they fell to the Indianapolis Indians (50-38) 3-1 in front of 5,004 on Saturday night at Coolray Field.
Over a season-high 7.0 innings, Blair (L, 6-5) gave up just two earned runs on eight hits while walking none and striking out six. However, the G-Braves were held to just seven hits, one extra-base hit, in their third straight loss.
Blair got into early trouble as Christopher Bostick led off with a single to begin the first inning. Two batters later, Eric Wood hit a two-run home run off the batter's eye in dead center field to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
Gwinnett was quick to respond in the bottom of the first against Indians starter Clay Holmes (W, 7-3). Ozzie Albies led off with a triple to right to tie himself for the International League lead with eight on the season. He then came home to score on a wild pitch with Xavier Avery at the plate. Avery drew a walk to extend his team-leading on-base streak to 23 games. Later in the inning, the G-Braves had runners on the corners with one out. Carlos Franco then hit a ground ball to third and hustled to try and reach, but was called out on a close play at first base as the Indians got the double play to end the inning and hold a 2-1 lead.
After the first, the game turned into a pitching battle as neither starter allowed a run over the rest of his start.
Between the second and seventh innings, Blair retired 16 of 17 batters faced, including eight in a row between the fourth and seventh to keep the deficit at just a single run.
For Indianapolis, Holmes gave up a base runner in all five innings he pitched, but induced three double plays to keep Gwinnett off the board. Over 5.0 innings, Holmes (W, 7-3) yielded one earned run on three hits while walking six and striking out two.
In the eighth, Mauricio Cabrera came out of the Gwinnett bullpen and induced a ground ball double play after allowing a leadoff single to get through the frame unscathed.
Brett McKinney entered in the sixth and pitched two innings in relief of Holmes to keep the visitors ahead. In the eighth, Edgar Santana and Dan Runzler combined to keep the G-Braves off the board.
Former Gwinnett outfielder Eury Perez doubled the Indians' lead in the top of the ninth with a home run off Enrique Burgos to give Indianapolis a 3-1 lead. The run was the first given up by Burgos in 12 relief appearances since joining the G-Braves.
David Freitas and Sean Kazmar Jr. singled off Runzler in the ninth to put the tying runs on base. The Indians then turned to Dovydas Neverauskas (S, 9) out of the bullpen and the reliever induced a ground out from Albies to finish the game.
Sean Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a walk in his second rehab game for the G-Braves, while Dustin Peterson went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
For Indianapolis, Perez was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 with the solo home run, three singles and two stolen bases.
In the series finale on Sunday afternoon, Andrew Albers (7-3, 3.79 ERA) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett against Indianapolis right-hander Tyler Eppler (6-3, 4.13 ERA). First pitch at Coolray Field is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 12:35 p.m.
As part of Sunday Funday (sponsored by Georgia United Credit Union), fans are invited to play catch on the field before the game at approximately 12:05 p.m. Following the game, kids ages 12 and under are welcome to run the bases. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.