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Garcia, Uggla struggle in Gwinnett debuts

LAWRENCEVILLE — Freddy Garcia got knocked around by his former teammates in his first start for the Gwinnett Braves on Monday.

Garcia, acquired by Atlanta from Baltimore on Friday for cash, was tagged for six runs in the fourth inning and eight overall by Norfolk. The veteran righty threw 77 pitches in 3 2/3 innings before getting replaced as the Tides rolled to a 13-1 victory.

It was a close game until the fourth. Garcia issued a two-out, bases-loaded walk and then Henry Urrutia launched a grand slam home run into the grassy slope in left center.

“They've been playing behind him all year,” Gwinnett manager Randy Ready said. “The last time he pitched was on the 16th so he went 10 days without pitching. Then he drove and traveled. So he wasn't sharp, by any means, but I thought those guys were very patient with him. They waited him out and he was falling behind in the count. Then when he came in, they did some damage there.

“When you go 10 days without pitching at this point in the season, it's tough.”

Dan Uggla was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in his first rehab game. Uggla has been on Atlanta's disabled list since Aug. 13 when he had a LASIK procedure and was added to the Gwinnett roster Monday.

Uggla was hitting .186 with 21 home runs and 53 RBIs in 112 games with the Braves prior to going on the DL. It's the 33-year-old's first stint in Triple-A and first minor-league rehab assignment.

“I felt better and better each at-bat,” Uggla said. “This is a weird thing to have to talk about. I can see. It's not a question of that at all. It was before.

“Do I see a huge difference? No. But I'm seeing 20/15 and I don't have to deal with contacts anymore. So it's a different situation and now it's just about getting back into it.”

Norfolk (72-64) wasted no time getting to Garcia. The third pitch from the 36-year-old was swatted to the wall in right center for a double by Chris Dickerson. Dickerson moved to third on a fly ball to right and scored on an RBI-groundout from Urrutia for a quick 1-0 lead.

Gwinnett (57-80) tied it in the second taking advantage of a leadoff walk to Brandon Boggs. With a full count, Stefan Gartrell smacked a rope to shallow left center and brought in Boggs. The G-Braves could have had more, but stranded Gartrell on third and Norfolk jumped right back ahead in the third when Navarro scampered home on a wild pitch from Garcia.

Then came the disastrous fourth for Garcia, who was 8-3 with a 2.84 ERA for the Tides in 13 starts since arriving in late June. The major damage was all done with two outs, too.

“He probably made a pitch that he would like to have back,” Ready said. “He probably made a few of them. I think that just goes back to him not being sharp.”

Urrutia had five RBIs as Norfolk continues to battle for the wild card. Yamaico Navarro also crushed a two-run homer in the fifth against reliever Joe Bisenius and initiated four double plays from his spot at shortstop.

The G-Braves, who mustered just one run off 12 hits, play Norfolk again Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. Their final home stand of the season wraps up with three games against Durham (Wednesday-Friday).