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G-Braves end skid with 7-2 win over Lehigh Valley

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

LAWRENCEVILLE —Wilkin Ramirez got the scoring started and Wilkin Castillo kept the innings ending for the G-Braves on Tuesday.

The two Wilkins were part of a Gwinnett Braves team effort to end a four-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over Lehigh Valley to even the four-game series at one apiece.

After losing 12-2 to the IronPigs the night before, Gwinnett took an early lead when Ramirez singled in runs in the first and second innings. Ramirez knocked in Matt Young, who doubled to lead of the game and he scored Castillo in the second inning.

“You want to get a lead because it gives your pitcher and opportunity to make pitches,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez ended the night 3-for-4 with two RBIs, his third three-hit game in his last seven and his fifth straight game with a hit in split time in Class AAA. He spent six days in the major leagues with Atlanta, going 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored as a situational hitter. He is 4-for-8 since his return Monday.

“Anytime you are in the big leagues you are confident,” Ramirez said. “You work harder because you want to go back.”

And Ramirez wasn’t the only G-Brave swinging. Following his second RBI-single, Stefan Gartrell hit his eighth home run of the season (seventh with Gwinnett), a three-run blast off the center field batter’s eye, to give the G-Braves a 5-0 lead in the second inning.

“It was nice to see,” manager Dave Brundage said of the early runs. “(It’s good) when you go up early on a good-hitting ballclub.”

A yeoman’s pitching effort made that lead stand.

Jose Lugo started his first game of the season in place of Mike Minor, who started Tuesday for the Atlanta Braves. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic pitched four innings, allowing two runs off five hits, striking out three.

His 59 pitches came six short of his season high 65 thrown over 42⁄3 at Pawtucket on May 9. He threw 59 pitches May 22 at Lehigh Valley in a three-inning relief appearance.

“I thought Lugo did everything, the entire staff did a good job,” Brundage said. “That’s the bullpen.”

The IronPigs scored their two runs in the third inning off back-to-back RBI hits by Ronnie Belliard and Tagg Bozied. Erik Kratz singled with two outs, but was caught at second base to end the inning with a runner on third.

After Lugo’s outing, Anthony Varvaro threw three hitless innings in relief, facing the minimum thanks to catcher Castillo. Castillo picked his opposite number, Erik Kratz, off first base to end the sixth inning and caught Josh Barfield stealing second to end the seventh on a strikeout-throw out double play.

“That was two big outs in the ballgame,” Brudage said.

“It was important because it was one of the biggest innings and one of their biggest hitters (Josh Barfield) was coming up,” Castillo said through a translator. “That was a big part of the whole game.”

Castillo, who has more appearances than catcher J.C. Boscan who ended last season in the big leagues, also went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, nudging his average up to .257.

“The more I play, the better rhythm I get in,” Castillo said. “It definitely helps getting more playing time. It shows off in my at-bats and helps the team out as well as myself.”

Newly minted G-Braves relief pitcher Ben Swaggerty struck out the two he faced in the eighth before giving way to closer Jairo Asencio who struck out three over 11⁄3 innings. The IronPigs did not have a hit after the fourth inning.

Shawn Bowman put the game out of reach with a two-run home run in the eighth inning. This is the fourth game this season where the G-Braves hit two home runs against the IronPigs.