Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Gwinnett Braves’ Diory Hernandez (11) runs down Charlotte’s Josh Kroeger (7) as he tries to make it back to first on Thursday.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Cristhian Martinez didn’t enter in the best situation.
He followed a rough outing by Todd Redmond and the G-Braves’ defense, entering trailing 6-3.
Knights 6, G-Braves 3
What happened: Gwinnett committed three errors in a four-run second inning that gave the Charlotte Knights a lead they never gave up. The reigning IL pitcher of the week Todd Redmond lasted just five innings in his eighth loss of the season and his third in his last five starts. Joe Thurston was the G-Braves’ offensive life going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a double and catcher J.C. Boscan was 1-for-3 with a run scored and a bunt single.
Stat of the day: The three G-Braves’ error in the second inning matched their season-high for a game and were the most in an inning all year.
Web gem: After early bungles in the field, Freddie Freeman made a stab on a line drive to first to get the first out of the sixth inning.
Pivotal moment: Gwinnett failed to take advantage of loading the bases with no outs in the fifth inning. One run scored on a fielder’s choice by Freddie Freeman, but Matt Young was caught off third after Barbaro Canizares lined out to second base.
Worth noting: Reliever Cristhian Martinez has not allowed a run in his 71⁄3 innings since he returned to the G-Braves from Atlanta. He pitched three scoreless Thursday.
On deck: RHP Ryne Reynoso (2-6, 4.76) gets the start against Knights’ RHP Lucas Harell (6-8, 4.39) today at 7 p.m. in a game that features the San Diego Chicken.
Over the next three innings, the deficit got no worse.
Martinez allowed one hit over three innings and erased the only hit when he pitched out on an attempted steal to catch the runner at second. The strong outing didn’t improve the G-Braves’ bats. Gwinnett had just one hit in the same span in a 6-3 loss to Charlotte to begin its final series before the All-Star break.
“He was a nice bright spot,” manager Dave Brundage said of Martinez. “In the situation we are in trying to save the bullpen, that was huge. It may seem like a small thing, but it was huge to me and huge to our staff.”
Martinez’s outing is becoming the norm. Since his return from a stint in Atlanta, the once shaky reliever picked up off waivers from the Florida Marlins has transformed his game. After his last outing before his call up on May 19 Martinez’s ERA stood at 5.04. It is now 3.90 and he has allowed just three hits in 71⁄3 innings and no runs.
“He threw the ball well in Atlanta,” Brundage said. “He has come back down with a good attitude and hopefully it pays off over the next three games.”
But good pitching doesn’t equal runs and Martinez’s effort only kept the game in reach.
It got out of hand early.
Four times this season the Gwinnett Braves committed three errors in a game.
On Thursday, they did it in one inning. Two came on one play. With two outs and runners on first and second third baseman Wes Timmons overthrew Freddie Freeman at first and Freeman followed with a bobble and an overthrow to home plate. A walk followed by a bases clearing double turned into a triple on the third error.
Suddenly it was 4-0 when there had been two outs and none on.
“It was uncharacteristic errors,” Brundage said. “We have played good defense all year. We had a meltdown in the second inning, defensively.
“When you give a team four or five outs they should score four runs.”
Redmond allowed two more runs in the fourth inning. The five innings pitched were his lowest since June 12. He allowed six runs off eight hits in his third loss in his last five starts.
Joe Thurston, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI, helped spark a mini-rally in the bottom of the second with a RBI single. That inning began with a Charlotte error. Of the game’s four errors all of them came in the second inning.
Gwinnett added one more run in the fifth after it loaded the bases with no outs. They pushed the run across on a Freeman RBI fielder’s choice, but the inning ended when Matt Young broke home on and Barbaro Canizares line drive. Knights’ second baseman Rob Hudson easily doubled Young off third base.
“That’s part of the mental mistakes,” Brundage said.
From there, the G-Braves had two more hits but did bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth before Charlotte closer Greg Aquino picked up his 10th save.