Sean Gilmartin took the early battles, but Brett Marshall won the war.
Gilmartin, the Braves' No. 4 prospect, had a no-hitter going through six innings Thursday night before unraveling for three runs on four hits in the seventh. Instead, it was Marshall who escaped his side of the frame unscathed en route to seven shutout innings in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 4-1 win over Gwinnett.
The Yankees' No. 16 prospect allowed five hits and three walks while striking out two in what amounted to his first Triple-A win and the RailRiders' fifth straight victory.
"A game like this, it's exciting," said Marshall (1-2). "Whenever you can get two pitchers going like this, it's fun to see, definitely. Unfortunately for him, he hit that rough inning, and I just tried to stay consistent and on top of my game. So when we came through in the seventh, that was great. It was a really good all-around win for us tonight."
As has been his MO throughout his career, the 23-year-old right-hander was able to stay with Gilmartin by relying on a heavy sinker. He forced nine total groundouts in the outing, including inning-ending double plays in the first, fifth and sixth frames -- all of which erased Braves who had reached on walks.
Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte singled to open the seventh, breaking up Gilmartin's no-hit bid. Dan Johnson grounded into a double play and Ronnier Mustelier walked before Addison Maruszak put an end to the scoreless tie with a two-run double. Luke Murton followed that up with an RBI single that finally chased Gilmartin (2-1) after 6 2/3 frames.
Marshall allowed a single to Joey Terdoslavich to open the seventh before retiring three straight to close out his impressive start. He finished with 99 pitches (58 for strikes) in his longest outing since July 20, 2012 for Double-A Trenton.
The outing could not have come at a better time for the Texas native, who had struggled immensely in his four-start introduction to the International League. In that span, he was 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA, a .324 batting average against and 14 walks in 18 1/3 innings.
That led to some understandable frustration, but it took a return to the old bread-and-butter to get Marshall back on track.
"The past few starts I was trying to force ground balls, instead of believing that the ground balls would come on their own," said the right-hander, whose ERA dropped to 5.33 after the win. "Tonight, I tried not to do that. It helped that I had my sinker too because I hadn't been throwing it lately. I was focusing more on just commanding my fastball until my pitching coach [Scott Aldred] said I should throw the sinker more. I'm getting my confidence in it again, so that's definitely a good thing."
That difficult start came directly after a breakout 2012 campaign for the 6-foot-1 hurler. His 13 wins for Trenton tied for the organization lead amongst Yankees farmhands while his 120 strikeouts and 3.52 ERA ranked fourth and fifth respectively.
But against the more advanced, more patient bats in Triple-A, Marshall struggled with his command, allowing 10 walks combined in his first two starts. Thursday, though, was the early culmination of what he believes is a reinvention process he's undergone in each of his six seasons in the Minors.
"Going from [Class A] to Double-A to Triple-A, each level's a different step to where I want to be," Marshall said. "So it almost feels like at each stop, I'm learning how to pitch again. At each level, I'm learning how to pitch a different game. So far here, it's been about how I can become more consistent with my throws and how I can throw more strikes. … I'm excited to get out there again now that I'm finding my rhythm and move on to the next start and the one after that."
Terdoslavich -- Atlanta's No. 14 prospect -- went 3-for-4 in the Braves' loss, improving his average to .333 through the first 28 games of the season. Rehabbing catcher Brian McCann went 1-for-4 and drove in the team's only run before being pulled for a pinch-runner in the eighth.