LAWRENCEVILLE — From the first batter, things didn’t look up for the Gwinnett Braves.
Former No. 1 overall draft pick and Georgia native Tim Beckham smacked the third pitch he saw over the top of the left field wall for his fourth home run of the waning season.
The homer set up a two-run first inning for the Durham Bulls against starter David Hale as the Bulls cruised to a 5-1 win over the Gwinnett Braves.
The loss was the fifth straight for the G-Braves and 14th of the season against the International League South leading Durham Bulls.
Gwinnett starter David Hale lost his third straight decision allowing five runs of off seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out two. It was Hale’s eighth loss on the season. The Marietta native hasn’t won a start since Aug. 1.
Gwinnett scored its only run off of starter and recently announced IL most valuable pitcher J.D. Martin after loading the bases on three straight one-out hits in the fifth. Jose Constanza grounded out to first to score Joe Leonard. Todd Cunningham ended a rally hope with a line out to the third baseman. The righty Martin earned his league-leading 16th win, pitching 7 1/3 one-run innings. He allowed seven hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out four. Sixty-one of of his 101 pitches were strikes.
Durham’s fifth run came in the sixth inning and didn’t require a hit. Hale walked the first two batters he faced and after getting No. 9-hitting Kevin Kiermaier to ground out was lifted in favor of Andrew Russell. Russell struck out Beckham and after intentionally walking Luke Scott walked Brandon Guyer to allow the run to score. Beckham led the Bulls offense, going 4-for-6 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Gwinnett stranded two more runnings in the eighth inning after a leadoff double by Matt Pagnozzi and a single by Constanza. The hit was the third of the game for Constanza. The next three G-Braves went down in order to end the threat and chance at a comeback.
Gwinnett had another chance in the ninth. With one out, Tyler Greene took a ball off his shoulder and Leonard and Phil Gosselin followed with singles to load the bases and bring Matt Pagnozzi to the plate representing the tying run. Already with a single and double in the game, Pagnozzi struck out, leaving the potential rally in the hands of Constanza. Durham’s Josh Lueke got Constanza to fly out on the first pitch ending the game. Constanza finished the game 3-for-5 with an RBI. Leonard, Gosselin and Pagnozzi each had two hits for Gwinnett.
In all, the G-Braves left nine runners on base and went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position.