Staff Photo: John Bohn Gwinnett Braves third baseman Ruben Gotay (4) knocks down a ball hit by Durham Bulls catcher Craig Albernaz during the fourth inning of Saturday's game at Coolray Field.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Jose Yepez doesn't bring much power to his plate appearances. In his biggest home run output in his career he hit six in 2009.
His second of this season came at the perfect time.
The catcher took a 2-2 pitch from Durham's Cesar Ramos high into the air and off the left field retaining wall to give the G-Braves their first lead and a 6-5 win over the Durham Bulls. It was the G-Braves fifth win in their last seven games as they continue to surge following just five wins in all of June.
The rally was the second for Gwinnett in the game where it fell behind at the start.
Yohan Flande hit lead-off batter Rich Thompson with the game's first pitch, the Bulls went on to score three runs in the first inning. Henry Wrigley doubled to score Thompson and Brandon Allen followed with his fourth home run to center field.
It wasn't the sharpest outing for Flande, coming off an eight-inning gem in his last start, but the lefty worked through 6 innings allowing five runs off eight hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
"I thought he made a couple of poor pitches early on," manager Dave Brundage said. "But he ended up settling down a little bit."
Felix Pie was removed in the third inning and replaced by Christian Marrero in right field. He left the game after injuring himself on a swing. Brundage said Pie would most likely sit today and rest through next week's All-Star break.
And Marrero did the trick.
The outfield replacement went 1-for-3, but his hit was a two-out, two-RBI double that brought the G-Braves back in the fifth inning.
Gwinnett trailed 4-0 after Durham added another run with a sacrifice fly by Griffin native and former first overall draft pick by Tampa Bay Tim Beckham. It was his sixth RBI in July and 16th in 25 games this season after missing 50 games for a drug suspension.
Then came the first rally. With two outs, Luis Durango walked and then stole his 30th base of the season, just sliding past the tag at second base. Jose Constanza then doubled to score Durango. Tyler Pastornicky walked and ended the night of Durham's second pitcher Bryan Augenstein. Frank De Los Santos entered and promptly gave up a two-RBI double to Marrero to cut the G-Braves deficit to 4-3.
"Marrero got us back in the ballgame," Brundage said. "To that point we hadn't played a good ballgame."
Stefan Gartrell led off the sixth inning with his second double of the game, sparking another Gwinnett rally. The double was the first hit with less than two outs in the game allowing Gartrell to advance to third on a flyout to right field and score on a wild pitch, tying the game at 4-4.
Durham re-took the lead in the seventh with a RBI single by Cole Figueroa. Durango came away with his ninth outfield assist on the play, saving a run by throwing out Reid Brignac at home.
And that run made all the difference when Yepez hit his go-ahead, two-run homer.
Jaye Chapman took the win, pitching the final 2 innings, saving a thin G-Braves bullpen. He allowed one hit and no runs, walked two and struck out two. He ended the game with a strikeout of Beckham after walking Brignac on four pitches.
"Just to make it interesting," Brundage said.
G-Braves 6 Bulls 5
• What happened: Jose Yepez blasted his second home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth to give Gwinnett a 6-5 lead and its fifth win in seven games. Jaye Chapman got the win in relief, pitching 2 innings, giving up one hit and no runs. He walked two and struck out two, including Tim Beckham to end the game in the night. Starter Yohan Flande took his third straight no-decision, allowing five runs over 6 innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Stefan Gartrell went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two doubles. Jose Constanza was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Christian Marrero went 1-for-4 with a two-out, two-RBI double. Gwinnett scored runs off three of Durham's four pitchers with Cesar Ramos taking the loss, pitching the final two innings and allowing two runs.
• Three-hitter: Stefan Gartrell's 3-for-4 night was his first three-hit game since June 8 and fifth of the season.
• Two-out streak: Until Stefan Gartrell led off the fifth with a double, the first five G-Braves hits all came with two outs.
• Tied at the top: With his RBI double in the second, Jose Constanza tied the G-Braves record with 14 straight games with a hit. Felix Pie this season and Barbaro Canizares in 2010 each had 14-game streaks.
• Up next: Gwinnett wraps up its first half today with RHP Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.50) facing off with Durham's RHP Lance Pendleton (4-2, 3.25) at 2:05 p.m.