Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan The Gwinnett Braves crowed around home plate as they celebrate and welcome in teammate Stefan Gartrell (32) who hit a walk off two run home run in the 10th inning against the Buffalo Bisons at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville on Thursday. The Gwinnett Braves defeated the Buffalo Bisons 5-3.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Todd Redmond seems to enjoys the morning.
A year ago, the Gwinnett Braves right-hander pitched his only complete game of the year in a 10:35 a.m. start, compiling a 4-1 record with a 3.15 ERA in day games.
But the earlier the better.
Like the morning date a season ago, Redmond again shined like the morning sun Thursday for the G-Braves, striking out a career-best tying 10 and walking just one batter over 6 innings against the Buffalo Bison. He walked just one batter and allowed one run off six hits.
Redmond didn't earn the win, leaving with the game tied at 1-1 and watching it go to extra innings tied 3-3.
And, finally, the G-Braves found the big hit they lacked in the first three games against the Bison.
With two outs and Jose Constanza on third after stealing two bases, Stefan Gartrell crushed a 2-2 curve well over the right field retaining wall to give Gwinnett a 5-3 win in 10 innings. It was Gartrell's sixth home run of the season and gave him at least one RBI in eight of his past nine games.
"I saw (the pitcher) shake his head and I thought, 'he's not giving me a fastball, see it up,'" Gartrell said. "I hit it. Sometimes I guess right."
The win ended a three-game skid and saved the G-Braves from a series sweep by the Bison.
"It was a tough series, we were in a bunch of games," Gatrell said. "We just like to put a lot of stress on ourselves, right now."
Manager Dave Brundage agreed it was a big win, though it came at a cost to the bullpen a day before a scheduled doubleheader.
"You are trying to squeeze pitches out of everyone," Brundage said. "At the same time, you want to get the win."
Gwinnett managed to win using just three pitchers, Jaye Chapman pitched 1 and Cory Gearrin went to his max in two innings getting the win after allowing his first blown save.
"He was a different guy," Brundage said of Gearrin, who pitched a dominant inning Wednesday night. "That's part of the consitency thing that we talk about."
Jair Jurrjens starts Game 1 today at 5 p.m. and the plan is for the bullpen to carry Game 2, though without Gearrin and possibly Chapman.
"Hopefully, J.J. gives us seven," Brundage said.
Redmond nearly did.
The 6 innings are a season high for Redmond, who came in Thursday with a 3.69 ERA after his worst outing of the year against Charlotte. He allowed four earned runs off six hits, including a home run in the loss. It was also the first time he failed to strike out a batter since August 2009.
"I thought he rebounded from one of his average performances last outing," Brundage said. "That's something he needs to maintain."
Redmond gave up a leadoff single to Fred Lewis on an eight-pitch at-bat to start the game, but the venerable righty didn't put another runner on base. A ranging play by Greg Paiml at shortstop retired Brad Emaus and Redmond struck out the final two batters to end the inning.
Redmond retired the next nine batters following Lewis' single before walking Brad Emaus to start the fourth. He allowed his second hit to Valentino Pascucci to put runners on the corners with one out, but again, escaped. After coaxing a foul pop out from Greg Lutz, Redmond struck out lefty Dustin Martin to strand the runners.
Christian Marrero broke the scoreless tie with a one-out solo home run in the fifth inning off Buffalo starter Jeremy Hefner. The blast was his second of the season and third allowed by Hefner.
Buffalo answered the run in the sixth when Redmond's nemesis Lewis led off with his second hit, this time after a 12-pitch at-bat. Lewis scored to tie the game with a two-out RBI single to left field by Pascucci. Twenty-eight of Redmond's 116 pitches were to Lewis, almost a quarter of the balls he threw.
Chapman, who entered in relief for Redmond, escaped the eighth with the game still tied thanks to the arm of catcher Jose Yepez. With two on and two out, Yepez threw Pascucci out at second after the right fielder, representing the go-ahead run, took too big of a secondary lead. The 1 innings from Chapman dropped his ERA to 1.65. He has allowed three earned runs in 16 innings this season.
The 1-1 tie Redmond left the game with lasted until the eighth when Gwinnett finally came up with the elusive game-breaking hit. Luis Durango doubled with two outs to right center to score Ernesto Mejia and Jose Constanza, who ran through a stop sign and was safe when the relay throw caromed off Durango's bat.
"We needed a little luck," Brundage said. "It was a good thing."
Buffalo tied the game in the top of the ninth off of reliever Gearrin. Gearring hit a batter and gave up back-to-back hits to blow his first save in three chances and allow his first earned runs since he gave up his one one of the season May 1 at Columbus.
"We needed that win," Brundage said.
What happened: Stefan Gartrell blasted his sixth home run of the season with two outs in the 10th to snap the G-Braves' three-game losing streak and avoid a series sweep by Buffalo. Starter Todd Redmond threw a strong 6 innings, allowing one run off six hits and striking out 10. The three at the top of the Gwinnett order, Gartrell, Jose Constanza and Luis Durango all had two hits, Durango and Gartrell had two RBIs apiece. Corey Gearrin blew his first save in the ninth, when he allowed a pair of runs, but he pitched scoreless 10th to pick up his second win.
K-day: Gwinnett's Redmond struck out 10 batters to tie a career high and Buffalo starter Jeremy Hefner K'd six of his own in a day where the two teams combined for 18 strikeouts.
High tie: Jose Constanza kept his hit streak alive with a single in his fourth at-bat. The leadoff hitter's streak is now at 11, tying a team high for the season.
Welcome back Matt: With the Toledo Mud Hens making their first and only trip to Coolray Field brings the return of former G-Braves and Braves outfielder Matt Young. Through 28 games, Young his .272 with 13 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Up next: Gwinnett gets two games today with a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. against the Toledo Mud Hens. RHP Jair Jurrjens (1-0, 1.80) gets the Game 1 start against LHP Adam Wilk (2-1, 1.06).