DURHAM, N.C. — The Gwinnett Braves lost their first game of the 2013 season in heartbreaking fashion Monday night as the Durham Bulls plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 2-1 victory in front of 8,035 fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Before the final inning, the night belonged to the starting pitchers. Braves right-hander Omar Poveda was stellar in his first start of the season, tossing six scoreless innings, giving up one hit while walking two and striking out four.
His opponent, right-hander Jake Odorizzi was superb, as well. He worked 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing four hits, two walks and striking out eight for Durham (4-1).
Both starters did not factor in the decision, as the game went scoreless until the ninth inning.
The G-Braves (4-1) struck in the top of the ninth inning. Right fielder Jordan Parraz drew a one-out walk and was lifted for pinch-runner Corey Wimberly. The next hitter, Todd Cunningham, reached on a fielding error by reliever Josh Lueke, placing runners on first and second with one out.
Joe Leonard then hit a ground ball to second baseman Cole Figueroa, forcing Cunningham out at second. The Bulls had a chance to end the frame, but shortstop Hak-Ju Lee dropped the ball trying for a double-play relay to first, allowing Wimberly to come in for the first run of the game.
However, the G-Braves' lead did not last long. In the bottom of the ninth, the Bulls scored two unearned runs against reliever Andrew Russell (0-1) to claim the game. Wil Myers led off with a single to center and moved to third on a single by Leslie Anderson. Chris Gimenez walked to load the bases with nobody out. With the infield drawn in, Brandon Guyer hit a ground ball to shortstop Scott Kazmar, but the middle infielder misplayed it, allowing both Myers and Anderson to score.
Russell picked up the loss, allowing two unearned runs without recording an out.
Lueke (1-0) picked up the victory, tossing one inning, allowing one unearned run, walking one and striking out two.
Cunningham led the G-Braves, as he went 2-for-4 with two singles. Jose Constanza and Matt Pagnozzi were the only other players to collect a hit for the G-Braves.
Myers, Anderson, Figueroa, and Vince Belnome led the Bulls, as they picked up a hit each.
The G-Braves and Bulls square off in Game 2 of the three-game series Tuesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Sean Gilmartin (1-0, 1.80) will be making his second start of the season for the Braves while Alex Torres (0-0, 0.00) will make his season debut for the Bulls. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM with Tony Schiavone calling all the action.
The G-Braves’ next home game is Monday, April 15, 6:05 PM against the Norfolk Tides.