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G-Braves score early, hang on for win

LAWRENCEVILLE — In their last chance of the season, the Gwinnett Braves scored just enough runs to avoid a season sweep by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The G-Braves scored 10 runs, with nine coming in the first five innings, and held on for a 10-6 win to stop a four-game losing streak and give starting pitcher Eric Junge his second win in his last three starts.

But before the G-Braves ended their current skid and the season-long losing streak against the Yankees, they first needed a lead. In the first seven games against Scranton, Gwinnett never held the advantage.

And they started from behind Monday.

The Yankees took the early l-0 lead when Brandon Lair blasted a 2-1 pitch from Junge well over the left field retaining well

But the G-Braves offense answered.

Gwinnett tied the game in the bottom of the second on an RBI fielder's choice by Ruben Gotay. Stefan Gartrell, who singled and advanced to third on a well-executed hit-and-run by Jose Yepez, scored on the ground ball back to Yankees pitcher Mike O'Connor. O'Connor tried to turn a double play but sailed his throw to second base into center field. Lance Zawadzki walked to load the bases with one out, but Gwinnett left them full with flyouts by Luis Durango and Jack Wilson.

“That jump started us a little bit,” manager Dave Brundage said of the hit-and-run that set up the first run.

It was the first of two hits on the night for Yepez, who entered Monday's game hitting .333 in July and upped his season average to .277.

“It's nice to get some at-bats,” the catcher who splits time with J.C. Boscan said. Yepez has played in 13 of Gwinnett's 19 games this month, getting some extra time with Boscan hopping up and down from Atlanta.

Gwinnett took a 4-1 lead in the third, again with production from the bottom of its order. Yepez, the No. 7 hitter and Gotay, No. 8, went back-to-back with two-out RBI singles. It was the second hit of the game for the catcher Yepez and the second RBI for Gotay. Zawadzki, batting ninth, reached on an infield single to first base and Yepez scored from second on the play with the Yankees Laird overthrew the bag for the second error of the game.

The lead was the first for the G-Braves over Scranton in 61 2/3 innings this season.

And they just kept building on it.

The rehabbing Jack Wilson led off the fourth with his first hit and Ernesto Mejia knocked him in with his 26th double. Stefan Gartrell doubled in Mejia to make it 6-1.

The Yankees Chris Dickerson hit the second home run of the game of Junge with two-outs in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-3. It was the lead-off hitter's second homer of the season.

Felix Pie matched Dickerson in homers with his third in the bottom half of the fifth, a three-run shot over the right field wall to extend the Gwinnett lead to 9-3.

“That three-run home runs was big,” Brundage said. “It got some separation between us.”

With the six-run lead, the G-Braves turned the game over to the bullpen and Cole McCurry.

Junge left the game after five innings and allowing three runs off five hits with a strikeout and a walk. All three runs came off home runs.

The lefty McCurry pitched a strong two innings before struggling in the eighth, eventually allowing three runs, with two scoring after he left for the righty Corey Gearrin.

“I think he ran out of gas,” Brundage said of McCurry, who pitched two innings on Friday in his last start.

Gearrin wasn't his usual out machine, but he was sharp enough and the defense helped. Gotay snagged a would-be RBI double in the eighth and Gwinnett ended the game with a slick double play with a bare-handed relay from Josh Wilson to Zawadzki.

“We held on,” Brundage said. “We made a couple of defensive plays to help our cause.”

G-Braves 10, Yankees 6

• What happened: Gwinnett scored nine of its 10 runs in the first five innings and held off the Yankees to avoid a season-sweep and end a four-game losing streak. Eric Junge got his second win in his last two starts, allowing three runs off five hits over five innings. All three runs scored on home runs by Brandon Lair and Chris Dickerson. Eight of the nine G-Braves recorded hits and all nine reached base. Felix Pie was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored, No. 9 hitter Lance Zawadzki also went 2-for-4 and scored a run. Catcher Jose Yepez gave the G-Braves their first lead against the Yankees this season and went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Luis Durango also Ernesto Mejia had two hits.

Rehab watch: Jack Wilson went 1-for-4 with a single, walk and two runs scored in his first rehab appearance.

• Up to the bigs: Jose Constanza was called up by the Atlanta Braves on Monday for his third trip to the big leagues this season.

• New blood: In a slew of roster moves, the G-Braves added RHP Anthony Varvaro from Atlanta, LHP Brent Leach from Class AA Mississippi and C Shawn McGill returns from Advanced-A Lynchburg.

• Long time down: When Gwinnett took the lead in the third inning it marked the first lead for the G-Braves over the Yankees in 61 2/3 innings this season.

• Up next: RHP Julio Teheran (6-5, 4.93) begins a series against Durham and LHP Alex Torres (3-5, 6.79) tonight at 7 p.m.