LAWRENCEVILLE — From the first batter of the game, Yohan Flande struggled to get outs.
Diving stops across the infield helped keep the Syracuse offense at bay as much as possible, but the singles turned into doubles and those into home runs. He allowed five runs off 11 hits including two home runs in 52⁄3 innings and when he left, things didn’t improve. Ben Swaggerty entered in relief and not only allowed Flande’s runner to score but also allowed two of his own to cross home. The seven runs allowed were too much for the G-Braves who lost 12-4 to the Chiefs, giving a team-record 19 hits in the process.
The starting struggles aren’t new for the lefty Flande, since moving into the rotation following the abrupt retirement of Jacob Thompson. He won his second start of the season, in a five-inning effort against the Rochester Red Wings. Since then, he’s lost three of his last five, never lasting more than six innings. In his last two starts, he’s allowed 11 runs off 19 hits in 10 innings. Before being forced into the rotation, the Dominican Republic native’s ERA was 2.87 with a 1-0 record and a save. It’s now 1.58 points higher at 4.45.
Chiefs 12, G-Braves 4
• What happened: Gwinnett starter Yohan Flande allowed five runs off five hits, including two home runs in five 52⁄3 innings for his four loss of the season. The Chiefs’ Jesus Valdez homered twice, the first off Flande and the second of Ben Swaggerty. Swaggerty allowed five more runs in 11⁄3 innings of relief. Stefan Gartrell hit his 15th home run of the season in the sixth inning for Gwinnett and Jose Constanza knocked in the G-Braves first run in the third and Stefan Gartrell hit his 15th home run in the sixth.
• Bad day: The four Gwinnett pitchers combined to allow a team-record 19 hits.
• Stat of the day: Syracuse starter Tom Milone pitched six innings and didn’t walk a batter. In 812⁄3 innings he has walked just five batters and struck out 89.
• Gartrell, gone: Stefan Gartrell hit his 16th home run of the season, 15th with Gwinnett and third in past two days.
• Web gem: 2B Ruben Gotay ranged and dove to his left to snag a hard-hit grounder and rob Adam Fox of a hit in the fourth inning.
• Pivotal moment: Ben Swaggerty allowed three runs to score in 1⁄3 of an inning in the sixth as Syracuse took a 7-1 lead.
• On deck: Gwinnett wraps up its series with the Chiefs tonight with RHP Erik Cordier (1-3, 3.86 ERA) facing RHP Craig Stammen (5-3, 4.34) at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CSS.
And the struggles didn’t stop with Flande. Swaggerty allowed five runs of his own, including the second home run of the game for the Chiefs’ Jesus Valdez. The two homers doubled his season total. Valdez ended his night 5-for-6 with four runs scored and five RBIs.
Jaye Chapman pitched a scoreless eighth, but even Corey Gearrin struggled allowing two more runs in the ninth with a pair of walks.
The Gwinnett offense wasn’t silent, just not noisy enough. Stefan Gartrell continued his hot-hitting ways with his third home run in the past two games and 16th of the season and Wilkin Castillo was 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and a run scored. Diory Hernandez doubled and scored a run.
All three Gwinnett runs came off strike-throwing starter Tom Milone, who pitched six innings and struck out seven. The right-hander has walked just five batters in 812⁄3 innings, striking out 89. Unlike the first two games of the series, the Chiefs’ bullpen backed up Milone. Chad Gaudin pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits in his second rehab appearance for the Washington Nationals affiliate.
Gaudin also ended the G-Braves’ feast on the Chiefs’ bullpen. In the first two games of the series, Gwinnett scored 11 runs off the Syracuse relievers. But with a big deficit, Gwinnett mustered just four hits and one run.