INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Indians rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Gwinnett Braves, 7-5, in Game 1 of the four-game series at Victory Field on Monday night. The defeat was the fourth in a row for Gwinnett and spoiled the 2012 AAA debut of starting pitcher Randall Delgado, who picked up the loss.
In the bottom of the fifth, clinging to a 4-3 lead, Delgado gave up what would be the eventual winning runs. With one out, the right-hander hit Jose Tabata with a pitch and then gave up a single to Chase d’Arnaud, putting runners on first and second. The No. 2 prospect in minor league baseball, Starling Marte, followed with a three-run blast to center giving the Indians a two-run cushion, 6-4, that would buoy them past Gwinnett.
Delgado (0-1) went five innings for the loss, as he gave up six hits and six earned runs, walked one, struck out five and allowed two home runs. Cole McCurry worked a scoreless sixth and seventh inning, giving up three hits with one strikeout. Dusty Hughes gave up two hits and one earned run in his inning of work, as he walked one and struck out one.
The G-Braves took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the third as Ernesto Mejia drew a two-out walk off Indians’ starting pitcher Rudy Owens, then scored from first on a double to left by Jordan Parraz.
Gwinnett added to the lead in the top of the fourth as Josh Wilson led off with an infield single and moved to second on a walk by Ruben Gotay. J.C. Boscan plated Wilson from second with a single to make it 2-0, and Delgado followed with a sacrifice bunt putting runners on second and third. Luis Durango scored Gotay with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 as Boscan moved to third. Then, Jose Constanza drove in Boscan from third with an infield single giving the G-Braves a 4-0 lead after three and a half innings. The hit also amped Constanza’s Gwinnett franchise record hitting streak to 19 games.
Delgado, who had pitched three solid innings, ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth. Starling Marte led off with a double to left center and moved to third on an infield single by Jeff Clement. Yamaico Navarro drove in Marte with a sacrifice fly to center to cut the G-Braves lead to 4-1. Then with two outs, Tony Sanchez socked a two-run homer to right that cut the lead to 4-3.
The G-Braves cut into the lead with a run in the top of the seventh off reliever Chris Leroux. Constanza led off the inning with a single, then moved to third on a single by Mejia. A wild pitch scored Constanza from third to make it 6-5, but Mejia was thrown out trying to move up two bases on the wild pitch, and the miscue killed the G-Braves’ rally.
The final run of the night came off Hughes in the bottom of the eighth, as Navarro drew a one out walk, moved to third on a single by Sanchez and scored on a sac fly to left by Anderson Hernandez for a 7-5 lead.
Owens (8-4) worked 5.1 innings for the win, as he allowed seven hits and four earned runs while he walked three and struck out five. Leroux went 1.2 innings with three hits, one earned run and one strikeout. Doug Slaten worked a scoreless eighth inning with one hit and one strikeout and Evan Meek worked a scoreless ninth with a walk and strikeout for his first save of the season by the former Major League All-Star.
At the plate, Gwinnett was lead by Constanza, Mejia, Boscan and Terry Tiffee who all had two hits each in the game.
Marte was 3-for-4 for the Indians with a home run, triple, double and three RBI as he fell a single shy of the cycle. Sanchez was 2-for-4 with a homer and single and two RBI.
The G-Braves (44-53) road trip continues Monday night at Victory Field in Indianapolis (60-36) with Game 2 of the four-game series against the Indians. Gwinnett will have left-hander Yohan Flande (3-7, 4.37) on the mound against former Braves’ farmhand and current Indian left-hander Jeff Locke (7-5, 2.95).