LAWRENCEVILLE -- Brian Matusz left the game just in time for the Gwinnett Braves.
The Norfolk starter, who didn't have much success in his six big league starts this season, needed just three with Class AAA Norfolk to put it together.
Facing a Gwinnett team that entered the game hitting .251 against left-handers, the southpaw from Arizona faced the minimum through five innings, getting two double plays along the way. He also retired 12 straight G-Braves in the stretch. And after seven innings had seen two extra batters, allowed three hits and walked two. He threw just 88 pitches over seven innings and left with a 2-0 lead, in line for his first minor league win of the season.
It didn't happen.
Gwinnett scored two unearned runs off three Norfolk pitchers in the eighth, tying the game and ending an offensive hibernation. Ruben Gotay, with two out and the bases loaded, knocked the seventh pitch of his at-bat into right-center field to tie the game.
The tie game lasted until the 11th when Norfolk scored a run off the G-Braves reliever Dustin Richardson. But that was the only run the Tides scored and it cost them as the G-Braves scored two in the bottom half for a 4-3 win.
Gotay singled and Stefan Gartrell was hit by a pitch to set up Mauro Gomez' game-tying single.
An out later, it was Diory Hernandez, again.
For the second night in a row the G-Braves infielder singled in the winning run in extra innings, this time scoring Gartrell from second base. He once again spent the ensuing moment avoiding a mob of his teammates.
The extra inning game was the first for the G-Braves since the first two games following the 2010 All-Star break. They waited until the second and third games this time.
Before first pitch, the game set-up as a pitchers' duel with Gwinnett countering Matusz with its own lefty with big league experience in Mike Minor.
Minor lacked the command he showed early in the season, but allowed just one earned run over his six innings. Norfolk scored two runs in the third inning after loading the bases with one out. Jake Fox hit a hard ground ball to shortstop Brandon Hicks who threw the ball into right field, allowing the second run to score on the play. Minor struck out the final two batters of the inning and ended the game with seven Ks.
When Gotay tied the game in the eighth it took Minor off the hook for what would have been his first three-game losing streak since a stretch in May and June in 2010 with Class AA Mississippi.
Once again, the G-Braves bullpen kept the game close. Juan Abreu pitched 21/3 scoreless and Jairo Asencio did the same over 12/3. The pair combined for nine strikeouts in their 12 outs.