Photo: Karl L. Moore
Gwinnett Braves’ Stefan Gartrell hits the first of his two home runs to lead the Braves past Buffalo on Saturday evening at Coolray Field.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Before Saturday’s game, Stefan Gartrell called his grandmother to wish her a happy birthday.
“She told me before the game, ‘Hit two home runs for my birthday,’” he said.
He gave his grandmother that and more.
G-Braves 7, Bison 1
• What happened: Stefan Gartrell knocked in five runs, scored four and hit two home runs and two doubles as the Gwinnett Braves ended a three-game losing streak with just their second win over the Buffalo Bison. Julio Teheran picked up his team-best fifth win in six innings, striking out five. Ed Lucas doubled twice and scored two runs. Brandon Hicks went 1-for-2 with an RBI and two walks for the G-Braves.
• Three times two: With his two home runs, Gartrell became the third G-Braves to hit two homers in a game this season. Wilkin Ramirez and Shawn Bowman matched the feat in early April.
• Four-for-four, run: Gartrell scored four runs on his 4-for-4 night, the most runs scored in a game this season by a single Gwinnett Brave.
• Effectively wild?: Julio Teheran earned his fifth win despite opening the game with five straight balls. He never totally controlled his pitches, but walked just two and struck out five in six, one-run innings.
• Pivotal moment: Wilkin Ramirez singled to score Gartrell in the first inning to give the G-Braves a 2-1 lead.
• On deck: LHP Mike Minor (2-2, 2.56 ERA) returns to the G-Braves rotation after his spot start with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday against the Padres to face fellow lefty Mark Cohoon (1-0, 9.00) of the Bison.
The San Francisco native doubled in his first at-bat of the night and that just got things started.
He followed with two two-run home runs, one over the retaining wall in deep left field and one to the opposite right field. He ended the night 4-for-4 with two home runs, two doubles and five RBIs. His last double came on a 3-1 pitch he pulled down the left-field line. Gartrell’s two-homer game was the third of the year for the G-Braves and with a 7-1 win over Buffalo, they are 3-0 in those games.
And since joining the G-Braves, Gartrell is 4-for-4 on his grandmother’s birthday.
“I was glad I was able to get her her birthday gift,” he said, “and help the team win.”
The win also ended a three-game skid for Gwinnett.
“He had a great night,” manager Dave Brundage said. “It came at an opportune time for him and for his teammates.
“I know he’s putting in extra time and I know he’s putting in extra effort. It’s nice to see him get rewarded.
Gartrell, who was traded from the White Sox organization to the Braves on April 16 and literally swapped clubhouses at the end of the Charlotte Knights’ series with the G-Braves at Coolray Field, now has 10 home runs on the season. He hit a career-best 27 with Charlotte last year and he’s on the same pace 55 games into this season. Saturday’s big night bumped up his average to .287 and the two doubles gave him 18 on the season. He only hit 20 all last year.
The home runs extended the lead, but the first-inning game-tying double awoke the slumbering offense and helped give Gwinnett its 11th win when the other team scores first. Gwinnett was 5-for-8 with runners in scoring position and only left three runners on base.
“That’s what I am actually pretty happy about that we were able to respond quickly,” Gartrell said. “That’s what we’ve been struggling with.”
Starter Julio Teheran opened the game with five straight balls to put a runner on without a swing. He coaxed a fielder’s choice and then picked Kirk Niewenhuis off first base to clear the bases with two outs. But trouble returned with back-to-back doubles by Lucas Duda and Valentino Pascucci to put Teheran and Gwinnett in a 1-0 hole.
“I wasn’t hitting the strike zone,” Teheran said through a translator. “That cost me a little bit.”
But Jose Constanza opened the bottom half with a single to set up Gartrell’s double and he later scored the winning run on a Wilkin Ramirez single. Ramirez left the game in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off the inside of his left knee. He was walking around after the game and Brundage said he expects Ramirez will be OK.
Teheran left after six innings, walking just two and striking out five to pick up his fifth win. He stuck with his fastball and kept it inside and threw it for strikes.
“He was efficient with his pitches the last three innings,” Brundage said. “He was throwing strikes in and that opened up the other half of the plate.”
The bullpen shut things down with Jaye Chapman and Anthony Varvaro combining to throw three scoreless, hitless innings.
Gwinnett added its last run in the eighth when Brandon Hicks knocked in none other than Gartrell.