G-Braves outfielder Nate McLouth watches his solo home run during the first inning of the G-Braves 13-6 victory over the Rochester Red Wings on Thursday night.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Most of the fretting before Thursday night’s game at Coolray Field was over struggling Gwinnett Braves pitcher Jose Ortegano, loser of a franchise-record eight straight games.
But with offensive firepower from likely sources, the Venezuelan native righted his previous early-game struggles and kept the Braves in the game early, keying a third consecutive victory over visiting Rochester, 13-6. Though Ortegano got a no-decision after leaving with one out in the fifth, encouragingly, his three earned runs allowed were a quantum improvement over his 11.12 ERA this month and 6.60 ERA in June.
To the delight of 3,823 witnessing the third of the series’ four games against Rochester, Ortegano was methodical, until loading the bases on two walks and a hit in the fifth and giving way to reliever Cristhian Martinez. Ortegano retired the Red Wings in order through four innings, in three of which his ERA typically had been above 6.30.
“He had good rhythm and good pace,” G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said. “He got to his pitch count, and unfortunately, couldn’t get the win. He pitched well enough to win.”
After Ortegano subdued the Wings through the game’s first half, the G-Braves needed five runs on four hits in the sixth to unlock a 3-3 tie, then another five on six hits in the seventh for the final margin.
G-Braves center fielder Nate McLouth, playing his first game since being sent down Wednesday from Atlanta, had an immediate impact by hitting a solo homer to right to lead off the first.
Catcher J.C. Boscan added a two-run homer with two out in the fourth to put the Braves (49-56) ahead 3-0.
But trouble struck briefly in the fifth, when the Wings (39-68) loaded the bases, then came within 3-2 on designated hitter Jacque Jones’ single to center off Martinez. Then, after a walk, Ortegano’s solid start faded, as the Wings tied in on Brandon Roberts’ sacrifice fly to center.
G-Braves designated hitter Barbaro Canizares, who hammered Rochester with a .370 average in seven games last season, again did damage Thursday. His three-run double to center keyed the sixth and upped his International League-leading average to .320. Boscan, who added a seventh-inning RBI single to his two-run homer, finished 2-for-4 with three RBI and helped Braves to 17 hits, their second most this season.