LAWRENCEVILLE — Erik Cordier walked off Coolray Field the right way Friday. And he left the home park a winner for the first time.
The right-hander, who took a ball off the back of his head in his last start at home, pitched six solid innings for the G-Braves, allowing one run off four hits. The one run came in the third when Charlotte’s Jim Gallagher crushed his sixth home run of the season with one out to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
But the G-Braves offense answered with a run in the third and four more in the fifth as they rolled to a 6-3 win over Charlotte.
G-Braves 6, Knights 3
• What happened: Gwinnett took advantage of three straight two-out walks by Charlotte starter Deunte Heath to score four runs in the fifth inning and break open a 1-1 game. Gwinnett starter Erik Cordier pitched an effective six innings, allowing just one run off four hits off a home run in the third. Stefan Gartrell upped his RBI total to 56 with a two-RBI double in the fifth, finishing the game 1-for-3 with a run scored. Jeff Fiorentino matched a season high with two doubles, the first since May 5 for Class AA Mississippi, and scored both times.
• Rehab watch: Martin Prado went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a walk, a run scored and a strikeout. His RBI single in the third was his first hit in his three rehab games.
• Free passes everywhere: The combined 13 walks by both team set a season high for walks in a G-Braves game. Charlotte also hit two batters.
• Odd out: Gwinnett ended the Knights’ sixth inning with an put-out at third after Lastings Milledge collided with coach Joe McEwing rounding the base.
• Pivotal moment: Charlotte starter Deunte Heath lost control of his pitches and the game in the fourth when he walked three straight with two outs. Gwinnett took advantage, scoring four runs in the inning.
• Up next: Gwinnett will play two today staring at 6 p.m. against the Knights, making up the April 15 rainout. RHP Cristhian Martinez (1-0, 1.80 ERA) faces RHP Matt Zaleski (0-1, 2.25) in Game 1 and RHP Yohan Flande (4-4, 3.95) will pitch for the G-Braves in Game 2. Charlotte did not announce a Game 2 starter.
Cordier’s start was just his third on the season where he lasted six innings. His 95 pitches were a season high. This was his third start since the frightening game on June 23 when he was taken off the field on a stretcher. He didn’t miss a start, lasting six innings and winning his next start at Louisville. But five days later he didn’t make it out of the third, giving up six runs off eight hits to Durham.
“It was nice, especially after his last outing,” Brundage said, noting his start in Durham. “It was nice to see that we took something from that and applied it today. That is the main thing in the minor leagues and especially at this level.”
He didn’t have a clean inning Friday, but picked a runner off base and coaxed timely ground balls. His final out of the game came thanks to Charlotte’s Lastings Milledge colliding with manager and third base coach Joe McEwing as he turned toward home.
“He didn’t have his best stuff. He wasn’t dominant by any stretch,” Brundage said. “His fastball command kind of faded in and out. There were times when he fell behind but he made pitches when he fell behind to make some big outs and get us through six innings.”
The running miscue typified the night for Charlotte.
Through the first four innings both pitchers, Cordier and former Braves pitcher Deunte Heath, kept the game tied at 1-1. Gwinnett scored its first run when Martin Prado got his first hit of his rehab stint when he took a 0-1 pitch the opposite way to right field to score Jeff Fiorentino in the third inning. Prado finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and a walk.
“I know he wanted to see some pitches,” Brundage said of Prado. “He’s seen pitches all his life. He’s very comfortable hitting with two strikes. I think one of his objectives is he wants to see pitches. The more pitches he sees the better he is going to be.”
And with two outs in the fifth, Heath’s night turned sour. The right-hander walked three straight batters, let a run score on a wild pitch and then gave up a two-RBI double to Stefan Gartrell. After a pitching change, the sloppy play continued and the G-Braves added a fourth run when catcher Tyler Flowers picked up a wild pitch and threw the ball into center field.
“It was two-out walks and Gartrell gets the big hit,” Brundage said. “It opened the game up a little bit.”
Jeff Fiorentino doubled for the second time in the sixth inning with two outs and scored on a shallow pop fly that fell between three Knights in left field. It was Fiorentino’s first two double game since May 5 with Class AA Mississippi and the two doubles upped his Class AAA total to six.
“To his credit he doesn’t get to play on a regular basis and he understands his role,” Brundage said. “When called upon he is an important key to our ballclub.
“He’s come through with some big at-bats for us this year.”
Jaire Asencio picked up his 14th save with a perfect ninth. Brandon Hicks left the game in the fourth inning. Diory Hernandez replaced him at shortstop and in the lineup. No official announcement was made about his status.