G-Braves rally falls one run short

FORT MILL, S.C. - After winning a series at first-place Durham, the Gwinnett Braves hoped to continue that momentum Friday night against Charlotte.

It didn't happen.

The Knights scored four runs in the fifth inning and held off a G-Braves rally for a 7-6 victory in the opener of a three-game series.

Gwinnett scored twice in the ninth inning and had two runners on with one out. But Clint Sammons hit into a force play and Van Pope popped out to end the game.

Kelly Johnson, on a rehab assignment from Atlanta, was 2-for-5 with a double and scored one of the ninth-inning runs. The second baseman is hitting .357 with a double, triple and homer in four games, driving in five runs.

J.C. Holt also had two hits for Gwinnett, batting in one of the two runs in the ninth. Brandon Jones had the other RBI during the rally.

Gwinnett scored twice in the second inning on a double by Wes Timmons. But Charlotte scored once in the bottom of the inning and four times in the fifth off G-Braves starter Jonny Venters (0-3) to take the lead for good.

Lucas Harrell (1-1) got the victory for the Knights, working five innings. Adam Russell came in to retire Sammons and Pope, picking up his fifth save.

Charlotte had 11 hits, including two each by former Atlanta Braves Brent Lillibridge and Wilson Betemit. Five of the Knights' hit were doubles.

The G-Braves (47-42) play the Knights (40-47) tonight and Sunday before getting a three-day break for the AAA All-Star Game. Todd Redmond (4-6) is the scheduled starter for the Braves tonight against Wes Whisler (5-6).

Gwinnett is third in the International League's South Division, 31/2 games behind both Norfolk and Durham. Charlotte is last in the division, 91/2 games back.

SideBar: Hanson back to minors, technically

Atlanta Braves rookie sensation Tommy Hanson is back in the minors, but not really.

To have room to promote reliever Luis Valdez from Gwinnett, Atlanta placed Hanson on the Myrtle Beach roster Friday until after the All-Star Game.

Hanson, 4-0 with a 2.85 ERA, got a no-decision Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at Colorado and wouldn't have pitched again until after the break anyway.

Valdez was needed for the bullpen because Kris Medlen will start in place of Javier Vazquez against the Rockies on Sunday. Vazquez has a lower abdominal strain.

Valdez had 16 saves and a 3.00 ERA in 37 appearances for the G-Braves. He was selected for the AAA All-Star Game to be played Wednesday in Portland, Ore.

Hanson has made seven starts for the Braves since being promoted from Gwinnett and had a 26-inning scoreless streak. He gave up four runs on six hits in five innings against Colorado.

Atlanta plays four games against the New York Mets at Turner Field after the All-Star Game before San Francisco comes to town. Hanson is expected to start the last game against the Mets or first against the Giants.

- Guy Curtright