Photo: David McGregor
Gwinnett’s Mauro Gomez swings at a pitch during the fourth inning against Buffalo on Friday at Coolray Field.
LAWRENCEVILLE — After nearly three full games of coming up empty, the Gwinnett Braves finally were able to score some runs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Friday’s contest with the Buffalo Bisons.
Unfortunately for the G-Braves, it wasn’t quite enough to avoid a 3-2 setback — their third straight loss and seventh in the last eight games — before 5,286 fans at Coolray Field.
However, they are trying to build on the positive, as tough as it seems after going 271⁄3 consecutive innings without a run before Shawn Bowman’s two-run home run in the G-Braves’ (26-28) final at bat.
BISON 3, G-BRAVES 2
• What happened: The G-Braves’ scoreless streak finally came to an end at 271⁄3 innings after Shawn Bowman’s two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. Buffalo starter D.J. Carrasco (2-3) gave up just four hits and one earned run in 82⁄3 innings, while the Bisons got solo homers from Michael Fisher, Valentino Pascucci and Lucas Duda off Todd Redmond (3-6), who threw eight otherwise solid innings.
• Stats of the game: The G-Braves avoided by one out being shut out for three consecutive games for the first time since the then-Richmond Braves were blanked in three consecutive outings in Rochester from May 31-June 2 in 2005. Coincidentally, the last runs scored by the G-Braves before the ninth inning Friday also came on a two-run homer by Bowman in the team’s last at bat of a game in this case, the eighth inning of their last win, a 7-2 in over Lehigh Valley on Tuesday.
• Web gems: A pair of Buffalo right fielders each made diving catches to rob the G-Braves as hits. Fernando Martinez ran in and made a diving catch on Mauro Gomez’s sinking line drive to end the bottom of the fourth. Meanwhile, Bubba Bell, who had just been inserted as a defensive replacement, made an even more clutch catch on a similar play in the bottom of the ninth, robbing J.C. Boscan of a chance to represent the potential tying run and ending the game.
• Back in the lineup: After getting a pinch-hit appearance and an inning in the field in Thursday’s series finale with Lehigh Valley, Jose Constanza was back in the starting lineup for the G-Braves on Friday. The 5-foot-9, 150-pound left fielder had missed five straight games before Thursday’s appearance after injuring his knee while sliding in a game last Saturday.
• Returning to the hive: A pair of former Georgia Tech alums were in the Buffalo lineup Friday, with Fisher playing first base and Mike Nickeas behind the plate. Fisher got the Bisons their first run of the game with his solo homer in the first inning off G-Braves starter Todd Redmond and added a double two innings later.
• Making the rounds: Friday’s national anthem was sung by Joseph Price, a professor at Whittier College in California and is singing the anthem in 100 different ballparks throughout the season.
• Up next: The series with Buffalo continues with a 7:05 first pitch tonight at Coolray Field. Top right-handed prospect Julio Teheran (4-1, 2.36) gets the start for the G-Braves, while the Bison have yet to name their starting pitcher.
“We don’t have a choice,” said G-Braves’ manager Dave Brundage. “Certainly you want to find the positives. We didn’t quit and roll over, and we had good, quality at bats probably the last five innings. … Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, that’s what happens. All you do is you keep plugging away.”
As has been a pattern lately, the G-Braves ran into an effective opposing starting pitcher.
This time, it was Buffalo right-hander D.J. Carrasco (2-3), who set down the first 14 hitters he faced and gave up just four hits and one earned run with seven strikeouts in 82⁄3 innings.
“He came right out of the gun throwing strikes,” Bowman said of Carrasco. “It’s hard as a hitter to go up there and not be aggressive because if he’ s throwing strikes, there’s no point in taking strike one, if not strike two. He did a great job of mixing his pitches, locating his cutter and his curveball was down.”
And as has also been the pattern for the G-Braves of late, they fell behind early.
This time, it was former Georgia Tech standout Michael Fisher who put the G-Braves in a hole by launching a 2-2 pitch from Todd Redmond (3-6) for a solo home run to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead with one out in the top of first.
Redmond settled down and allowed just two more runs — both on solo homers by Valentino Pascucci in the sixth and Lucas Duda in the eighth — after scattering eight hits and striking out five in eight effective innings.
That 3-0 deficit seemed much more daunting with Carrasco in control most of the night until the G-Braves’ bats finally began to show signs of coming out of their slumber in the seventh inning.
Still, they could put any crooked number on the scoreboard despite putting two runners on in both the seventh and eighth, plus hitting three more balls hard for outs in the latter.
Finally with two outs in the ninth, they were able to get something going on Brandon Hicks’ single, which spelled the end of the night for Carrasco.
Bowman then greeted the first pitch from reliever Erik Turgeon by launching it over the wall in left-center for a two-run homer for the G-Braves’ first runs since the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game against Lehigh Valley — also a two-run homer by Bowman — to cut the Buffalo lead to 3-2.
“The actual statistics, I think, don’t bother us in terms of not scoring runs,” said Bowman, who finished the night 2-for-4. “It’s the at bats we have. … First and foremost, you take care of what you have to take care of. If you have your plan up there at the plate, the outcome is going to be there.
“It’s not that we can’t do it. It’s just that we’re going through a stretch where we’re not swinging it the way we’re capable of. But all we have to do is keep grinding and keep having good at bats and the outcome will be there.”
The outcome was nearly there when J.C. Boscan stepped to the plate next and sent a sinking line drive toward right field that looked like it might put the tying run on base for the G-Braves.
But Bubba Bell, who had entered the game as a defensive replacement when Turgeon came out of the bullpen — sprinted in and made a diving catch to end Gwinnett’s comeback attempt.