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Top pick Gilmartin loses AAA debut for G-Braves

FORT MILL, S.C. — The Charlotte Knights squeezed past the Gwinnett Braves for the second straight game at Knights’ Stadium with a 4-3 win in Game 3 of the four-game series on Monday night.

It was also the Class AAA debut of Braves left-hander Sean Gilmartin, and the Atlanta Braves No. 1 pick in the 2011 MLB Draft did not disappoint despite being tagged with the loss.

The Knights struck for two runs in the bottom of the first off Gilmartin, as Drew Garcia worked a one-out walk and moved to second on an infield single by Brent Morel. Garcia moved to third and then the red-hot hitting Connor Jackson followed with a double down the third-base line to score both Garcia and Johnson.

The Knights maintained the 2-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth. Tyler Saladino, playing in his first AAA game, led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a bunt single by Tyler Kuhn. On the play, Saladino broke for third, but the G-Braves first baseman Ernesto Mejia threw the ball away, enabling Saladino to score making it 3-0 and moving Kuhn to third. Kuhn then scored on a sac fly to center by Garcia for a 4-0 Charlotte lead.

Gilmartin walked the next batter, Morel, but that would be the last base runner he would allow, as he retired the last eight batters he faced. Gilmartin worked 7.0 innings, with five hits, three earned runs, three walks and four strikeouts.

Meanwhile, the G-Braves, via the long ball, made a run in the later stages. In the top of the eighth, against reliever Jhan Carlos Marinez, Josh Wilson led off with a single, then with two outs Stefan Gartrell crushed a two-run homer (17) to deep left, cutting the Knights lead to 4-2.

In the top of the ninth with two outs and nobody aboard, newly acquired infielder Brian Friday hit a solo home run to left, cutting the lead to 4-3. However, that would be the only run the G-Braves would score against Charlotte reliever Brian Omogrosso. Omogrosso worked the ninth with one hit, one earned run and one strikeout, earning his fourth save of the season.

Buddy Carlyle pitched a scoreless eighth inning with two hits, one walk and two strikeouts.

Charlie Shirek (10-4) continued his dominance of the Braves. He worked 6.0 scoreless innings with six hits, one walk and four strikeouts. This season against Gwinnett, Shirek is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.38 in three starts and one relief appearance. Marinez went 2.0 innings with three hits and two earned runs, as he walked one and struck out two.

Gartrell, Mejia and Wilson were each 2-for-4 for the G-Braves, as Gartrell extended his hitting streak to 10 games, his longest of the year. It was also the third straight game in which he has homered and his sixth home run in the month of July.

Jackson and Kuhn were each 2-for-4 for Charlotte and Jackson has a 14-game hitting streak for the Knights, a career best.

The G-Braves (50-61) and Knights (63-48) conclude the four-game and season series Tuesday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 12:05 p.m. at Knights' Stadium. Right-hander Randall Delgado (1-1, 5.91) will start for Gwinnett.