LAWRENCEVILLE — Too much damage happened before Omar Poveda settled in — and much more after he left.
The Gwinnett Braves leader in starts watched four runs cross the plate in the first two and those runs were enough for the Charlotte Knights in a 8-2 win over the G-Braves to wrap up the three-game series.
Poveda allowed four hits and three earned runs on 47 pitches in the opening innings, but after that managed to record 11 straight outs before running out of steam in the seventh inning. The right hander pitched six-plus innings, allowing four earned runs off six hits with seven strikeouts. He has now lost his last four decisions, picking up a win on June 11 against the Columbus Clippers.
Rehabbing outfielder B.J. Upton led off for the G-Braves as the designated hitter, going 1-for-5 with a double. He struck out twice on pitches in the dirt and ended the game watching strike three.
For the second straight game, Charlotte took a 2-0 lead in the first inning this time by a bases-clearing triple by Travis Ishikawa. But unlike Thursday’s game, the G-Braves didn’t answer in the bottom half when Marcus Semien’s glove crushed a potential G-Braves rally. With runners on the corners and one out, Ernesto Mejia smacked a ball up the middle that Semien snagged diving to his left and tossed from his glove to Carlos Sanchez to turn the inning-ending double play.
A two-out error in the second allowed two more Charlotte runs to score. With a runner on first, Semien’s groundball was bobbled by Luis Nunez keeping the inning alive. A hit later, Avisail Garcia came up with a two-RBI single extending the lead to 4-0. Garcia joined the Knights as part of the White Sox trade of Jake Peavy to the Red Sox and his single was his first hit with his new team.
Poveda left the game in the sixth after another Nunez error helped two more Charlotte runs to score on a single by Carlos Sanchez. After walking the lead-off and nine-hole hitter, Poveda coaxed another ground ball from Semien but Nunez made his second error of the game, putting runners on second and third for Sanchez.
Joe Bisenius entered for Poveda and promptly allowed a two-run home run by Garcia as Charlotte built an 8-0 lead.
The margin hurt, but didn’t matter against Knights starter Charlie Leesman who allowed just five hits over seven one-run innings. In his third appearance against the G-Braves this season, the lefty matched his season-best outing of seven innings, earning his third win. Leesman has not lost a game since June 24. The only run he allowed came off an RBI single by Joe Leonard that plated Stefan Gartrell who doubled with one out. Gartrell was the G-Braves only offense going 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher and Newton grad Deunte Heath pitched the final two innings, allowing the Gartrell homer and Upton’s double, but struck out five, including Upton to end the game, to secure the Charlotte win.