LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - Despite a solid start from Kris Medlen in his first Gwinnett outing since 2012, the Gwinnett Braves couldn't find the clutch hit as they fell 3-1 to the Charlotte Knights at Coolray Field on Friday night.
Medlen (L, 0-1) pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on five hits while walking three and striking out six in his first Triple-A game since being signed by the Atlanta Braves over the offseason. However, the Gwinnett offense stranded 11 runners on base as the Knights evened the four-game series at one game apiece.
In the first inning, Medlen worked around a leadoff walk to Yoan Moncada to pitch a scoreless inning. In the second, he got tremendous defense to pitch another clean inning. With one out and a runner at first, Rymer Liriano hit a pop up to shallow right field. Hustling back on the play, Gwinnett second baseman Jace Peterson slid and made the catch with his bare hand to get the out in impressive fashion as Medlen got through the inning unscathed.
Medlen recorded his first two strikeouts in the third to work around a walk and a single and strand runners on the corners. A walk and an error didn't hurt him in the fourth as he induced a ground ball double play from Ronald Bueno to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Knights broke through as Moncada lifted a solo home run an estimated 421 feet to right field, his seventh of the season, to put Charlotte ahead 1-0. That would prove to be the only ball put in play in the inning as Medlen recorded three strikeouts to limit the Knights to just the one run.
The Knights loaded the bases in the sixth with two singles and a hit batter to put Jason Bourgeois at the plate with two outs. The Charlotte left fielder blooped a single to shallow center, scoring Danny Hayes and Liriano to put the Knights ahead 3-0. David Peterson then came out of the Gwinnett bullpen and struck out Moncada to end the inning.
Gwinnett failed to score against Knight's right-hander Carson Fulmer (W, 6-3), who scattered four hits over 5.0 scoreless innings, walked one and struck out two.
Facing Charlotte reliever Matt Purke in the bottom of the sixth, the G-Braves loaded the bases with two singles and a hit batter with one out. However, they would not score as Kyle Kubitza popped up and Anthony Recker struck out looking to end the threat. Gwinnett again threatened in the seventh as they put runners on the corners with two outs, but Purke again escaped trouble as he struck out Matt Tuiasosopo to end the inning.
Mauricio Cabrera came out of the Gwinnett bullpen in the eighth and retired the side in order, the first time either team recorded the feat all night, to keep the deficit at 3-0.
Gwinnett got on the board in the bottom of the eighth as Carlos Franco crushed the first pitch from Charlotte reliever Brian Clark for a solo home run 395 feet to right field. Franco's second blast with the G-Braves and 13th overall this season cut the deficit to 3-1.
In the bottom of the ninth, Charlotte reliever Bobby Parnell (S, 1) retired the G-Braves in order to finish the win and earn his first save of the season.
For Gwinnett, Franco led the way with the solo home run and a pair of hits. Jace Peterson also went 2-for-4 with a triple and a walk in the loss.
Moncada led the way with three walks and the home run for Charlotte while Bourgeois recorded two hits and two RBIs.
The G-Braves and Knights play game three of the four-game series on Saturday night at Coolray Field, first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. Right-hander Lucas Sims (4-3, 4.13) is scheduled to start for Gwinnett, while Charlotte will counter with right-hander Lucas Giolito (2-5, 4.95). Dave Lezotte has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 5:35 p.m.
Saturday is "Superhero Night," presented by RE/MAX. Meet your favorite characters and enjoy superhero themed on-field entertainment. Also, the first 2,500 fans through the gates will receive a limited edition superhero themed bobblehead of former G-Braves infielder Rio Ruiz, courtesy of Coolray Heating & Cooling. 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.