G-Braves lose late lead, fall to Buffalo

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Buffalo took advantage of three walks, issued by two different pitchers, to rally past the division-leading Gwinnett Braves in the eighth inning and claim a 4-3 victory Monday at Coolray Field.

The G-Braves held a 3-1 lead after adding an insurance run in the seventh, but watched it slip away with two outs. Erik Cordier walked Josh Satin and was pulled in favor of Jaye Chapman. But Chapman couldn't stop the bleeding, walking Matt Tuiasosopo and Fred Lewis to push one run across.

Gwinnett (19-11) still led, but Rob Johnson worked a full count and roped a change-up to left field. It scored Satin and Tuiasosopo to restore a lead Buffalo (18-13) hadn't held since the top of the third.

"You can talk about the walks," manager Dave Brundage said. "But at the same time, pitching is a big reason we're sitting where we are now (atop the South Division). Our pitching has been so dominant. We've held our leads, to this date.

"And we had some chances offensively we had some chances to push across some extra runs as well. I felt like we had some opportunities to break the game open and we didn't. It was a close ballgame and a lot of things get magnified."

The G-Braves took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning on Stefan Gartrell's first at-bat of the game.

Gartrell's home run bomb to straight-away center field pushed his hitting streak to eight games. Gartrell, announced Monday as the International League's batter of the week for April 30-May 6, also has RBIs in six consecutive games.

Gartrell wasn't in the starting lineup because for the first time this season, Gwinnett was playing another National League team and no designated hitter was used. But Gartrell came in for Jordan Parraz, who was hit by a pitch in the second, and his hot bat helped the G-Braves get ahead in a tight game.

"He's been swinging the bat and he looks so much better at the plate," Brundage said. "Much better at bat and giving himself an opportunity."

Starter Julio Teheran allowed a lead-off single in four straight innings, but gave up just one run as a consequence to hold the Bisons in check. He also escaped in the sixth with the tying run, Tuiasosopo, at third. Tuiasosopo smacked a double to the warning track and moved to third on a throwing error. But Teheran induced a fly out to center to end the inning.

It was also the end of his night. The righty allowed five hits, but just one unearned run, with a walk and three strikeouts in six innings.

"He pitched very well," Brundage said. "I thought he threw some very good change-ups and he mixed his pitches very well. He commanded his fastball much better tonight.

"He pitched winning baseball tonight and that's the Julio I saw last year."

Buffalo carved out a 1-0 lead in the third, capitalizing on a lead-off single by Omar Quintanilla. A sacrifice bunt and passed ball pushed Quintanilla to third. A long sac fly to center field by Dustin Martin scored Quintanilla.

The G-Braves answered in the bottom of the inning, tying the game on an RBI single ripped to the opposite field by Ernesto Mejia (2-for-5, RBI). It plated Jose Constanza, who led off with an infield hit and scampered into scoring position on his fifth stolen base of the season.

Buffalo stranded two in the top of the fourth and Gartrell smoked the solo homer over 400 feet to give Gwinnett the 2-1 lead.

The G-Braves added an insurance run in the seventh when reliever Josh Edgin winged the throw to first into the roll of tarps next to the dugout. Constanza (3-for-4, two runs, walk) tore around second and slid safely into third. He quickly scored on a double to right by Luis Durango (2-for-5, RBI) to make it 3-1.

They had a chance to extend the lead further with two walks loading the bases, but reliever Elvin Ramirez struck out Josh Wilson to end the inning.

Those stranded runners -- part of the game's total 12 -- came back to bite Gwinnett when the Bisons went to work on the bullpen in the eighth.

"They got a ground-ball base hit to left on their side, with the bases loaded, and we didn't," Brundage said. "That's pretty much the game in a nutshell."

Note: Right-handed pitcher Buddy Carlyle was placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 3 with a right elbow strain. Carlyle is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA for the G-Braves this season.