G-Braves 'pen squanders Batista start

LAWRENCEVILLE — On Aug. 20, suddenly July 27 mattered — but not enough.

Late in the worst month in Gwinnett Braves history, the G-Braves roster started to change. Along with two pitchers, the G-Braves added infielder Rusty Ryal a recently-released minor leaguer from the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves signed aging pitcher Miguel Batista, eventually assigning him to Class AAA Gwinnett.

And until the ninth inning, Batista and Ryal appeared to give Gwinnett just enough to win its third straight game. But a 3-0 lead with three outs to go vanished. Reliever Cole McCurry, back for his third inning of work, allowed the first two runners to reach and Andy Russell allowed the two to score and added one of his own tying the game at 3-3. Norfolk completed the comeback on hard-luck reliever Ryan Buchter in the 11th with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by No. 9 hitter Steve Tolleson and then shortstop Josh Wilson gave up a two-run single, giving the Tides a 6-3 win.

Gwinnett left one runner on base in the bottom of the 11th.

It was a loss that took the shine off of a strong start by Batista.

After making his past two appearances out of the bullpen, Miguel Batista returned to the G-Braves rotation Monday and turned in his best performance since joining the team. The veteran right-hander pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out seven. His lone walk didn't come until his final inning of work and four of his seven strikeouts came in the first two innings. He threw 50 of his 77 pitches for strikes.

This six innings were the most he's thrown for Gwinnett and his longest outing since he lasted seven innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 14, his last major league win. In that outing he didn't allow a run and struck out five, while pitching for the New York Mets.

Tides shortstop Blake Davis saved starter Zach Clark a run in the first, making a diving stop and turning a double play on a hard-hit Stefan Gartrell ball to end the inning. He saved another run in the second by turning a second double play with two runners on.

Before the double play, Gwinnett's Rusty Ryal doubled to score Ruben Gotay and give the G-Braves a 1-0 lead.

Two innings later, deja vu. Ryal again doubled to score Gotay from first base and Gwinnett took a 2-0 lead.

The two RBIs were the eighth and ninth for Ryal since joining the G-Braves on July 27.

Gwinnett added its third run in the seventh on Stefan Gartrell's 55th RBI.

Batista gave way to Cole McCurry leading 2-0 and McCurry saw it grow to 3-0 over his first two innings. But the lefty allowed the first two runners in the ninth to reach, ending his night and turning things over to Andy Russell. Russell promptly allowed the two runners to score on back-to-back hits after getting ahead of both hitters 0-2. The tying run scored on a double-play ball with no outs hit by Tides catcher Luis Exposito.

Tides 6, G-Braves 3

What happened: Miguel Batista pitched six scoreless innings and Rusty Ryal knocked in Ruben Gotay twice but the G-Braves bullpen squandered a three-run lead in the ninth and Norfolk finished off Gwinnett in the 11th.. Ryal doubled in Gotay in both the second and fourth on a 2-for-4 night. Batista allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out seven, his best performance since joining Gwinnett. The G-Braves added their third run on Stefan Gartrell's 55th RBI. Cole McCurry pitched two-plus innings, the first two scoreless before allowing two runners to reach in the ninth. Andy Russell allowed the two to score and the Tides to tie the game and Ryan Buchter took the loss, struggling through the 11th, eventually replaced by position player and too-often-used pitcher Josh Wilson.

Chasing Wes: With a lead-off walk Jose Constanza increased in IL on-base streak to 37 straight games, bringing him within 11 of the Wes Timmons' franchise record 48 set in 2009.

Ending a streak: When Ryal knocked in Gotay in the second inning it ended a steak of 18 1/3 straight scoreless innings turned in by Tides starter Zach Clark.

Deja-two: Ryal turned in repeat performances in the second and fourth inning, doubling to score Gotay from first with one out in each inning.

Up next: LHP Yohan Flande gets the start in today's early-morning 10:35 a.m. game against Norfolk, which counters with fellow lefty Dana Eveland (4-4, 2.81). The game will be televised on CSS.