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Bullpen blows Gilmartin start in 4-3 G-Braves loss

LAWRENCEVILLE -- At the start of this season, Sean Gilmartin earned plenty of recognition.

The lefty and former first-round draft pick started for the Braves' Future Team in the final exhibition of spring training and he followed that as the opening day starter for the Gwinnett Braves.

On Tuesday, Gilmartin represented the Braves hopeful future against one of its recent past's.

The No. 4 prospect in the Atlanta organization, Gilmartin faced off against former Atlanta Braves All-Star pitcher Jair Jurrjens as the 27-year-old attempts to resurrect his career in the Baltimore Orioles.

In the snippet of a sampling, Gilmartin outlasted and out-dueled for former major leaguer.

Gilmartin threw seven plus innings and allowed one unearned run off five hits. He struck out one and walked three, leaving the game with a 3-1 lead. When the G-Braves bullpen imploded in the ninth, Gilmartin took his second consecutive no-decision in a 4-3 loss.

"He pitched really well tonight. It was kind of tough-luck going on out there," said Gwinnett Braves manager Randy Ready. "He had full command of the game.

"He deserved better fate tonight."

Jurrjens also pitched well, lasting six innings and allowing three runs, all in the first inning. But it was a rough first inning.

The G-Braves teed off on the right-hander scoring three runs on three hits. Tyler Pastornicky extended his hitting streak to eight games, Ernesto Mejia added his 15th RBI with a sacrifice fly and Jordan Parraz crushed his third home run well over the left field fence in the inning.

"You've got to try to continue to push some runs across the plate," Ready said. "That's one of the reasons you have to play nine innings and you have to score each and every inning."

Norfolk took one run back in the second inning on an RBI double by No. 9 hitter Jonathan Schoop that scored catcher Luis Exposito. Exposito reached base on an infield single and scored the unearned run from second after G-Braves first baseman Mejia was called for obstruction.

Pastornicky kept hitting in the third, beating a throw from Tides shortstop Schoop for an infield single. The hit gave the G-Braves second baseman his seventh consecutive multi-hit game.

After allowing the unearned run on Exposito's double, Gilmartin didn't allow a hit over the next four innings, and walked just two.

"(Catcher Jose) Yepez and I had a pretty good rhythm going," Gilmartin said. "He was putting down what I wanted to throw and we got in a good groove there."

Trayvon Robinson broke up the streak with a leadoff single in the seventh, but stayed on first as Gilmartin retired the next three. After seven innings, Gilmartin had thrown just 87 pitches, 54 for strikes.

"I kept the pitches to a minimum, was very economical out there," said Gilmartin, who needed 91 pitches to get through four innings in his last outing. "It was definitely nice to out there and put together the outing that I did."

Gilmartin faced one batter in the eighth, allowing a ground-rule double on interference to leadoff hitter Jason Pirdie, before giving way to Cory Rasmus. Rasmus retired the next three batters.

"Certainly we didn't want to put him in a position to get the loss," Ready said of Gilmartin's exit. "His pitch count was getting up there, but he was very effective. We have to protect our guys."

The remainder of the bullpen didn't fair as well. Dusty Hughes allowed a ground-rule double and exited without a facing another batter. The hard-throwing Wirfin Obispo walked the first two batters he faced, struck out the next two, and with two outs allowed a bases-clearing, go-ahead triple to Jason Pirdie.

"He bounces right back with a couple of strikeouts, he was afforded the luxury to face the last hitter," Ready said. "Unfortunately, the game got away from us. The game was ours, it was just unfortunate it slipped away the way it did."

Former Gwinnett closer Jairo Asencio entered in the bottom half for the Tides and pitched his fifth straight perfect inning, keeping his ERA spotless and picking up his fourth save.

"He's been pretty consistent in closing the door the last couple of years," Ready said of Asencio.