Photo: Karl L. Moore. Gwinnett Braves' Tyler Pastornicky throws around the slide of Indians' John Bowker (23) to turn a double play against Indianapolis during Saturday's game at Coolray Field.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Things went downhill after Erik Cordier hit the first batter of the game.
The right-hander, who lasted just three innings in his last start, gave up four runs off five hits to Indianapolis in the first inning. A two-out error by Brandon Hicks led to four more runs, though unearned, in the second inning and Gwinnett quickly fell behind 8-0 to the Indianapolis Indians.
"That's a huge hole," manager Dave Brundage said. "We haven't been down like that all season long."
And despite a grand slam by Stefan Gartrell the eight runs were too many to overcome in a 10-5 loss to Indianapolis.
The loss put Gwinnett a half game behind Durham, which did not play its game against Charlotte due to rain in North Carolina, in the International League South.
After allowing the eight runs off seven hits, hitting a batter and walking two, Cordier followed with three one-hit innings. In the final three innings, the lack of command disappeared. Cordier didn't leave the game until relief pitcher Cory Gearrin pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the fifth, striking out. It was Gearrin's fourth career at-bat and he is still looking for his first hit. But the five innings from Cordier made a difference to a depleted G-Braves bullpen. Gwinnett is down one reliever with Anthony Varvarro in the Atlanta bullpen providing an extra arm at the big-league level.
"He could have folded up the tent," Brundage said of Cordier. "Those five innings could save us."
Until the big fifth inning, Gwinnett had just three base runners, squandering lead-off singles by Matt Young and Wilkin Castillo in the first and third innings. But Ruben Gotay singled to lead off the fifth and with two outs, Young and Tyler Pastornicky followed suit to load the bases for Gartrell. On a 2-1 pitch, the G-Braves top power hitter blasted Rudy Owens' offering to straightaway center for his 23rd home run of the season and his fourth career grand slam.
"It felt like (we had some momentum)," Brundage said. "Eight to four is not out of the question. We made a game of it. "
Gwinnett never got closer than four. Reliever Dustin Richardson allowed a pair of solo home runs in his two innings of relief and former Braves prospect Gorkys Hernandez robbed Wilkin Ramirez of a home run with a leaping catch at the wall.
Gwinnett added its final run in the seventh with an RBI single by Mauro Gomez to score Pastornicky. Pastornicky is now on a five-game hitting streak and has eight multi-hit games in his 11 games since joining Gwinnett on July 19.
Following Richardson, recently recalled pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino pitched an impressive and perfect eighth inning. The preseason No. 7 pitching prospect has allowed one run over three one-inning appearances with six strikeouts since his July 26 promotion from Class AA Mississippi. Jairo Asencio pitched a perfect ninth inning.
"They kept their pitches down, too," Brundage said of Asencio and Vizcaino saving their arms to be available sooner. "Sometimes as a manager you have to look ahead."