G-Braves still winless at home

LAWRENCEVILLE - With Tommy Hanson pitching, it looked like the time for the Gwinnett Braves to get their first home victory.

Instead, it was just another loss.

Hanson was less than dominant and Norfolk completed a three-game series sweep with a 4-2 victory Sunday before 7,287 at Gwinnett Stadium.

Fans crowded the fence overlooking the G-Braves bullpen to get a glimpse of Hanson warming up. But once he got to the mound, Atlanta's top pitching prospect was more ordinary than dazzling.

"He wasn't as sharp as usually," Gwinnett catcher Clint Sammons said.

Hanson came in with a 0.90 ERA and it was up to 2.45 by the time he was lifted in the fifth inning. The right-hander struck out six, but gave up six hits and all four Norfolk runs, one of which was unearned.

"He just couldn't seem to find his rhythm," G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said. "It was very uncharacteristic the way he couldn't finish off hitters with two strikes."

Norfolk scored a run in the first inning, two more in the fourth and the unearned run in the fifth.

Hanson left with two outs after he reached his pitch count of 95 and a single off reliever Mariano Gomez scored the last run.

"Tommy had trouble with his release point," Sammons said. "But he'll be fine. Everyone knows how good a pitcher he can be."

"Because of his stuff, he throws a lot of pitches," Brundage said. "That's something we talk about. We'd like to be able to get him deeper into games."

No one expected Hanson to be 0-2 or the G-Braves to be 4-7.

Home has not been sweet, at least not yet.

"I want to say no," Brundage said when asked if his team was feeling the pressure of trying to get that first win before their new fans. "But I'd probably be lying if I said it wasn't in the back of peoples' minds."

Sammons and Joe Borchard hit homers, but the G-Braves couldn't muster any offense otherwise. Gwinnett was outscored 18-10 in the series.

"I don't know if it is pressure, but everyone is aware of trying to get a win for these fans," Borchard said. "They've been great and we want to play well for them."

Now the G-Braves have to face Durham, which won a series against them 3-1 in North Carolina and leads the International League's South Division with an 8-2 record.

Norfolk is second in the division at 6-4.

"It doesn't get any easier," said Brundage, whose team plays three games against the Bulls beginning tonight.

As good as Gwinnett's pitching may prove to be, Durham and Norfolk have the edge so far.

"I'd venture to say that the three best staffs in the league are in our division," Brundage said. "We've had trouble scoring, but we've faced some really good pitching."

Dave Pauley, who tied for the IL high with 14 wins for Pawtucket last season, pitched six innings to get the win for Norfolk. The G-Braves reached base just seven times in the game.

Sammons' homer, which almost went foul, tied the game in the third inning, but the G-Braves were down by three runs before Borchard connected leading off the seventh against Tides reliever Kam Mickolio. The last nine Gwinnett batters were retired in order.

Kris Medlen will pitch for the G-Braves against Durham tonight and maybe he can help get that first home win. Medlen hasn't allowed a run in 8 2/3 innings this season, giving up just one hit.


Tides 4, G-Braves 2

What happened: Norfolk completed a three-game series sweep Sunday, beating RHP Tommy Hanson (0-2) and keeping Gwinnett winless at its new ballpark. RHP Dave Pauley (1-1) allowed a run over six innings for the victory.

Turning point: After the G-Braves tied the game at 1 on Clint Sammons' homer in the third inning, Norfolk scored twice in the fourth and once more in the fifth off Hanson.

Counting the house: After two crowds of more 10,000, the series finale at Gwinnett Stadium drew 7,287. Rain stopped about an hour before the start of the game.

Web gems: Norfolk sparkled in the field, with the best play turned in by 3B Mike Castanzo. He fell into the stands to catch a foul ball in the fifth inning.

Worth noting: C Sammons and LF Joe Borchard each hit his first homer. ... LHP Boone Logan was perfect for the G-Braves over the last two innings, striking out four. ... DH Barbaro Canizares had two hits for Gwinnett, raising his average to .400.

On deck: RHP Kris Medlen (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will start for the G-Braves today at 7 p.m. as the opening homestand continues with a visit by Durham. RHP Mitch Talbot (1-0, 2.70) is scheduled to pitch for the Bulls. Medlen has allowed just one hit in 8 2/3 scoreless innings, walking one and striking out 10.