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G-Braves claim opener 5-4 over Charlotte

LAWRENCEVILLE --Thursday's rainout meant that Gwinnett Braves fans had to wait one more day for the season opener, but as it turned out, the wait was worth it.

Tyler Pastornicky went 4-for-4, catcher Matt Pagnozzi delivered a big two-run single and Andrew Russell delivered two scoreless innings of relief for the save as Gwinnett opened 2013 with a 5-4 win over Charlotte on Friday night at Coolray Field.

The win marked the fourth time in five seasons Gwinnett has kicked off the season with a victory, and also gave manager Randy Ready a victory in his Gwinnett debut.

"Only 143 more to go," Ready laughed after the game. "It's always good to get off to a good start."

Lefty starter Sean Gilmartin (1-0) picked up the win, gutting his way through five innings with one earned run on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

He threw 87 pitches, 52 for strikes, and allowed at least one baserunner in four of his five frames. "(Gilmartin) pitched a nice game," Ready said. "He mixed in all of his pitches and was in command and did a nice job keeping us in the game."

Charlotte (0-1) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Josh Phegley launched a long solo homer to left off the top of the retaining wall over the Braves bullpen.

That lead held until the fourth inning, when Gwinnett (1-0) struck for four runs.

Pastornicky led off the inning with a double in the right field corner and scored the first run of the season when Joe Terdoslavich followed with a sharp single to center.

The Braves then caught a huge break when Ernesto Mejia's pop fly to shallow center was lost by the Charlotte infield in the fading twilight, putting runners at first and second with no out.

Blake DeWitt would single to right to load the bases, but Charlotte would record a force out at home when Todd Cunningham grounded sharply to first.

Gwinnett went ahead 2-1 when Joe Leonard singled off the pitcher's glove and took a 4-1 lead when Pagnozzi dropped a single in left center field.

Charlotte cut the score to 4-2 in the sixth with a solo shot from Steve Tolleson, but Pastornicky extended the lead back to three in the seventh with an RBI double to right center, his second two-bagger of the game.

"Tonight was a carry over from spring," Pastornicky said. "I'm feeling good and had fun out there tonight. We had some good pitching, good hitting and it was good all-around game."

Charlotte wouldn't go away and got within one in the eighth with a two-run double from Seth Loman, but Russell came in from the pen and retired the side in both the eighth and ninth to secure the first win of the year.

"That was huge," Ready said of Russell's performance. "He came in and kind of put the fire out with no hits and four strikeouts."

Gwinnett finished the night with 12 hits, including a 2-for-3 game from Leonard.

With the rainout on Thursday, the two teams will play a doubleheader today with two games of seven innings. The gates open at 4 p.m with the first pitch at 5:05 p.m.