Dan Uggla, on a rehab assignment from Atlanta, is congratulated by manager Randy Ready as he rounds the bases against Norfolk on Tuesday. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden)
LAWRENCEVILLE — It took a blast from rehabbing Dan Uggla, but the Gwinnett Braves’ homerless streak is finally over.
Uggla, eligible to come off the Atlanta disabled list today after laser eye surgery, lined a 2-1 fastball from Steve Johnson over the left-field fence in the fifth inning Tuesday night for the G-Braves’ first home run since Aug. 8.
It had been a 17-game drought since Ernesto Mejia connected in the 10th inning at Norfork, giving Gwinnett a victory. But this time at Coolray Field, the G-Braves lost to the Tides in extra innings.
Phil Gosselin, who had replaced Uggla at second base, let a grounder scoot by him in the 12th inning and Norfolk scored twice en route to a 4-3 victory.
The G-Braves, who had been robbed of a potential win in the ninth by Xavier Avery’s catch in deep center field, scored a run in the bottom of the inning, but fell short once again in a long season that is almost over at last.
The bright spot in the game, which took four hours and nine minutes, was Uggla, although the G-Braves fell to 11-30 with a Braves position player filling in on a rehab stint this season.
Uggla had taken called third strikes his first two times up, giving him four strikeouts in five at-bats with Gwinnett. But he followed his homer with a line single in the seventh inning before leaving for a pinch runner.
“I’m glad I got it done,” Uggla said of the eye procedure. “… I’m 100 percent ready to get back (to Atlanta).”
Although Uggla has 21 homers and 53 RBIs in 112 games with the Braves, a 4-for-57 slump had dropped his average to .186 and he has 146 strikeouts in 388 at-bats.
“I realized that I wasn’t seeing the ball very well at the beginning of the season,” Uggla said. “But I thought I’d give contacts a shot. I think the contacts were inconsistent and realized they weren’t working.”
Now Uggla feels he’s ready for a fresh start.
“My vision wasn’t horrible, but when you’re trying to hit and recognize pitches and you’re used to seeing 20/15 and then you can’t, it’s tough,” he said.
Sean Gilmartin allowed just two hits, including a homer, over six innings, striking out seven and walking one. But he got a no-decision when Yamaico Navarro pulled a no-doubt homer over the left-field fence on a 3-0 pitch in the eighth inning off Cody Martin.
It was the third start back with the G-Braves for Gilmartin, who missed nearly two months with a sore shoulder, and his second strong outing. He pitched five scoreless innings at Durham on Aug. 15.
The G-Braves scored in the third inning on Alden Carrithers’ two-out RBI single, but the Tides —fighting for the International League wild-card spot — tied it in the fourth when Jonathan Schoop took Gilmartin deep for his ninth homer of the season.
The G-Braves finish the home schedule with a three-game series beginning tonight against Durham — the IL’s South Division champion — before playing three games at Charlotte through Labor Day to end the season. The Bulls are 13-5 against the G-Braves this season.
Notes: Right-hander J.D. Martin, who was named the International League’s most valuable pitcher on Tuesday, will start for Durham in the series opener at 6:05 p.m. today. He is 15-4 with a 2.84 ERA and hasn’t allowed a run while going 0-2 against Gwinnett, giving up six hits in 13 innings. … Right-hander David Hale (6-7, 2.87 ERA) will start for the Braves. … The game is the last of the season televised by CSS and will be shown on tape delay beginning at 7:30 p.m.