NORFOLK, VA - The six-game losing streak came to an end for the Gwinnett Braves (4-8) with a determined 5-4 win over the Norfolk Tides (8-5) Tuesday in the second of a four-game series at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Va.
It was a see-saw battle for most of the game, with the G-Braves grabbing leads, and the Tides mounting comebacks.
Gwinnett designated hitter Joe Benson led off the top of the third with a double to center field off of Norfolk starter T.J. McFarland (L, 0-2). A ground out to second base by Barrett Kleinknecht moved Benson to third, and catcher Jose Yepez followed with a deep sacrifice fly to right that scored Benson for a 1-0 lead.
However, the Tides struck right back in the bottom of the third off of G-Braves left-handed starter Manny Banuelos (W, 1-0). With one out, Paul Janish singled to right, and Dariel Alvarez lined a two-out, two-run home run over the left-field wall for a 2-1 Norfolk advantage.
The G-Braves answered the next half-inning, as Jose Peraza led off the fourth with a single and steal of second base. A single to right by Adonis Garcia moved Peraza to third. Elmer Reyes drove a two-out double to left, scoring Peraza to tie the game at 2-2. A walk to Benson by McFarland loaded the bases, and Kleinknecht delivered a clutch two-out single to left, scoring both Garcia and Reyes to re-take the lead, 4-2.
But once again, the Tides fired back. Christian Walker greeted Banuelos in the bottom of the fourth with a single to left. Rey Navarro doubled to right-center field, moving Walker to third. Henry Urrutia singled to right to plate Walker and cut the Gwinnett lead to 4-3. Michael Almanzar then lifted a sacrifice fly to center, which scored Navarro from third to knot the game back up at 4-4.
The G-Braves went ahead again in the top of the fifth. Eury Perez reached on a bunt single and stole second base. An infield single by Peraza moved Perez to third with no outs. Garcia then hit into a 6-4-3 double play, scoring Perez from third for a 5-4 Gwinnett lead.
The Tides attempted one more comeback in the bottom of the ninth against Gwinnett right-handed reliever Aaron Kurcz (S, 2). After Norfolk put two men on base with one out, Kurcz settled down to get Jason Nix to foul out to first and Noland Reimold to fly out to center to preserve the G-Braves' third one-run victory of the season.
Banuelos worked 5.2 innings for his first win of the season. He allowed six hits and four earned runs, walked one and struck out five. Right-hander David Carpenter (H, 2) went 1.2 innings with one hit and one strikeout. Lefty Donnie Veal (H, 3) pitched 0.2 of an inning with one hit allowed, and Kurcz worked the ninth with one hit and one walk.
Norfolk's McFarland went 5.0 innings with eight hits and five earned runs allowed with two walks and three strikeouts. Right-handed reliever Chaz Roe pitched 2.0 innings with one hit and one strikeout. Righty Michael Bowden worked 2.0 innings with three hits and one walk given up with one strikeout.
At the plate, Peraza led the G-Braves by going 3-for-4 for his first three-hit game at the Triple-A level and his team-leading fifth multi-hit game. Pedro Ciriaco went 2-for-5, Benson was 2-for-3 with a run and a double and Kleinknecht finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
For the Tides, Walker and Alvarez were each 2-for-4. Alvarez homered and had two RBIs.
The G-Braves and Tides meet Wednesday night in game three of the series at Harbor Park. Right-hander Williams Perez (0-0, 2.00 ERA) will make his third start of the season for the G-Braves. The Norfolk Tides will start righty Zach Davies (1-0, 2.00 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com beginning at 6 p.m.
Gwinnett's next home game is April 27 at 6:35 p.m. against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. To purchase tickets, call the Coolray Field Ticket Office at 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.
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The Gwinnett Braves are the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Follow the G-Braves at GwinnettBraves.com, facebook.com/GwinnettBraves1 and twitter.com/GwinnettBraves. Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.