Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Gwinnett Braves Stefan Gartrell swings for the ball during a recent game at Coolray Field.
LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett Braves are still a half-game out of first place, but they go into the break for the Class AAA All-Star Game with their best first-half record ever and some momentum on their side.
Stefan Gartrell tuned up for the AAA Home Run Derby by going deep twice Sunday and the G-Braves (50-41) defeated Charlotte 6-4 at Coolray Field for their 12th victory in the past 17 games.
Mauro Gomez - another International League All-Star and Home Run Derby participant -- and Chris Carter also connected in the victory over the Knights as the G-Braves matched their season high for homers in a game.
Gwinnett was in third place in the South Division at the break each of the first two seasons and the 50 wins this year are two more than the previous best accomplished in 2009, when the G-Braves ended up going to the playoffs as the wild-card team.
Gartrell's two homers gave him 100 for this minor league career and he has 18 of them this season. That ties him with Freddie Freeman and Mitch Jones for the most by a Gwinnett player in a season.
Gomez and Carter also have impressive home run totals. Gomez, who came into the game in a 0-for-12 slump, hit his 15th and Carter has 14 homers.
Gartrell's first homer and Gomez's blast came off Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks, who pitched three innings while making a rehab start for Charlotte.
Gwinnett right-hander Todd Redmond (6-8) gave up a homer in the second pitch of the game to Charlotte leadoff hitter Alejandro De Aza, but worked into the sixth inning for the victory.
Jaye Chapman pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first save with the G-Braves, who were prevented from having a chance to hold first place at the break when Durham (50-40) defeated Norfolk 3-1.
The G-Braves continue at home after the break, with four games beginning Thursday against Norfolk and then four against Louisville. Continuing to play better at home is the key to the Gwinnett's hopes.
The G-Braves are just 20-25 at home this year compared to league-best 30-16 on the road. But they are 4-2 in their past six games after taking three of four from the Knights (45-47).
Gwinnett had four players selected for the International League team in the AAA All-Star Game on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, but pitcher Julio Teheran will not take part because he pitched in Sunday's All-Star Futures Game in Phoenix.
Jose Constanza will join fellow Gwinnett outfielder Gartrell and first baseman Gomez in Salt Lake. Mike Graus of the G-Braves will be the trainer for the IL All-Stars.