LAWRENCEVILLE — For a guy making his second start of the season after the rotation shakeup begun by the Atlanta Braves, Jose Lugo did as well as could be expected.
The right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs, four earned, off eight hits with four walks and four strikeouts. It was the longest outing of the season for Lugo, who pitched six innings June 9 in a win at Pawtucket.
He didn't fare as well Monday.
Gwinnett put up four runs for Lugo, but lost 5-4 for the G-Braves' third straight loss.
“Lugo was good,” manager Dave Brundage said. “He wasn't great, but I thought after the second inning he pitched well.”
Lugo gave way to Cory Gearrin, who wasn't sharp, but pitched a scoreless 2 2/3 innings with a pair of walks, even escaping two inherited runners in the seventh.
But after scoring four runs in the first four innings, the Gwinnett bats went silent. The G-Braves managed just two hits over the final five innings, but did attempt a rally in the ninth.
Gwinnett put two runners on with one out in the innings with a walk by pinch-hitter Christian Marrero and a single by J.C. Boscan. But facing Bryan Morris, Lance Zawadzki struck out and Jose Constanza grounded out on a diving play by second baseman Yamaico Navarro.
“(Navarro) made a (heck) of a play to end the ball game,” Brundage said. “Even with a spot starter going, we were in position to win the game. We had good at-bats, we gave ourselves an opportunity and had the right guy up there in the end.”
But just like Gwinnett, Indianapolis didn't score after the fourth inning either, going hitless over the final five innings.
Lugo allowed a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Starling Marte after a one-out triple by former Brave Gorkys Hernandez, but the G-Braves answered back. Luis Durango singled with one out and Ernesto Mejia hit his 17th double two put two runners on with two outs. Felix Pie followed with a two-out, two-RBI single to make it 2-1 after one inning.
But the runs kept coming.
The Indias re-took the lead in the second with three runs, one off an error by Tyler Pastornicky that set up an RBI single by starting pitcher Rick VandenHurk. Chase d'Arnaud knocked in his pitcher with a single and it was 4-2 Indianapolis. The RBI was the first hit and RBI this season for VandenHurk in three games.
“We didn't handle the ball well and when you play good ballclubs they make you pay,” Brundage said. “We are going to make physical mistakes, we just couldn't cover them up tonight.”
Lugo did get his first hit of the season in the bottom of the second, but the two-out single didn't turn into a rally when Constanza grounded out for the first scoreless frame of the game.
Mejia blasted his 14th home run of the season for his second two-out hit of the game in the third to make it a 4-3 deficit. The blast came on a 1-1 pitch from VandenHurk. Mejia ended the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Indianapolis got the run right back on a sac fly by Sterling Marte in the top of the fourth.
Gwinnett's Josh Wilson made it a one-run game again when the second baseman led off the fourth with his 12th double and then scored on a VandenHurk wild pitch.
But the scoring stopped there as Gwinnett lost its third straight. VandenHurk improved to 5-0 and his ERA dipped to 1.86. Lugo is not 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA.
Jair Jurrjens will start Tuesday for the G-Braves and pitch one, maybe two, innings as he prepares to make an announced start for the Atlanta Braves in Boston on Friday. Brundage said Monday he did not know who he would turn to to follow Jurrjens.