Photo: David McGregor
Gwinnett’s Stefan Gartrell trots to home plate after hitting his second home run of the game as Louisville catcher Devin Mesoraco watches Monday night at Coolray Field.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Monday was a night of milestones for the Gwinnett Braves.
On the night in which the Atlanta Braves’ AAA affiliate welcomed its one millionth fan and honored legendary Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, the G-Braves gave their own manager, Dave Brundage, his 1,000th career victory.
Stefan Gartrell belted two home runs — giving him the Gwinnett single-season record — while Julio Teheran pitched five gutsy innings and contributed with his bat as well in a 5-2 G-Braves victory over the Louisville Bats before 5,054 fans at Coolray Field.
G-BRAVES 5, BATS 2
What happened: On a night full of milestones, Stefan Gartrell blasted two home runs and drove in four runs, while Julio Teheran battled through five innings and had two hits and an RBI at the plate as the G-Braves gave manager Dave Brundage's 1,000th career victory.
Key moment: With the G-Braves leading 5-1 in the top of the sixth, they nearly let Louisville back into the game with a pair of errors to lead off the inning. A walk to Bats Danny Dorn with one out then loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate, but Mauro Gomez made a nice grab of Paul Janish's foul pop against the tarp on the first-base line, and relief pitcher Anthony Vavaro stuck out pinch hitter Mike Costanzo to keep the Gwinnett lead intact.
Stats of the day: When Gartrell launched his first homer of the game in the third inning, there was a question of whether he had truly just set a new G-Braves single-season record. Yes, it was his 19th of the season. However, the first of those homers came while he was still a member of the Charlotte Knights back in April, giving him 18 while with the G-Braves, tying the mark of 18 set last year by both current Atlanta Braves rookie Freddie Freeman and Mitch Jones. However, the 27-year-old belted his second homer of the game in the fifth inning, giving him 20 total for the season, 19 with the G-Braves.
Getting a Chipper feeling: In addition to the guest of honor for Bobby Cox Night, honoring the legendary retired Atlanta Braves' skipper, there were other special guests at Coolray Field on Monday. Atlanta All-Star third baseman Chipper Jones took a round of batting practice with the G-Braves, continuing his rehab work following arthroscopic knee surgery on July 9. Jones will take another round of batting practice with the G-Braves today, and is hoping to rejoin the major league team when it returns from its current road trip next Monday. The other special guest was Atlanta Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, who threw a few batting practice pitches to Jones and a few of the G-Braves.
Up next: The series with Louisville continues with a 7:05 first-pitch today at Coolray Field. Right-hander Cristhian Martinez (2-1, 2.12 ERA) takes the mound for the G-Braves, while the Bats counter with left-hander Travis Wood (1-1, 4.13 ERA).
“It’s still corked,” Brundage said of the two bottles of celebratory champagne on ice in front of him on top of his desk after the game. “It means something to me, ... but at the same time, we play a team game. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it.
“There was a lot going on (Monday) night. It was a fun night. Certainly having Bobby Cox here … is special. … I was maybe a little bit embarrassed. What I’ve done pales in comparison to what Bobby Cox has done.”
There was nothing embarrassing about the G-Braves’ effort, especially that from Teheran and Gartrell.
Teheran (10-1) wasn’t has sharpest, throwing 91 pitches, being forced into several deep counts and giving up at least one baserunner in four of his five innings.
The 20-year-old right-hander struggled early, committing a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at second and giving up two hits — including Yonder Alonso’s RBI single — to fall behind 1-0 on an unearned run in the top of the first.
However, he battled through most of the trouble, allowing just three hits and walking three with six strikeouts through five innings to become the International League’s first 10-game winner this season.
“He threw a lot of pitches,” Brundage said of Teheran. “He had to work hard for his outs. I think the only 1-2-3 inning was in the fifth. He started to command his fastball and started to get some rhythm.”
Teheran also helped himself at the plate with two hits — his second and third of the season — and his first RBI of the season.
But it was Gartrell who provided most of the G-Braves’ offense, going 2-for-3 with the two home runs — giving him 20 on the season and passing Freddie Freeman and Mitch Jones for the team’s single-season record — and driving in four runs.
The first of Gartrell’s bombs was the most important.
It came with two runners on and one out with the G-Braves still trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third.
“What I was trying to do was make sure we didn’t come out of that inning empty,” Gartrell said. “All I was really trying to do was get a ball in the air for (the runner on third) to tag up.”
He got one, as he launched a 2-2 offering from Scott Carroll (6-5) deep over the wall and off the fence on top of the back wall in left field for a mammoth three-run homer that put the G-Braves up 3-1 and changed momentum around.
Gartrell then added icing to the cake two innings later when he blasted a solo homer to left to lead off the inning and increase the G-Braves’ lead to 5-1.
That was plenty for Teheran and the Gwinnett bullpen, as Anthony Vavaro pitched three solid innings, striking out three and giving up just one win, while Jairo Asencio pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save in as many opportunities on the season.