Phil Gosselin went 3-for-4 for the Gwinnett Braves against the Durham Bulls in Friday’s home opener at Coolray Field. (Photo: Karl Moore/Gwinnett Braves)
LAWRENCEVILLE — Triple No. 3 took its toll.
Twice earlier in Friday’s Gwinnett Braves’ home opener, the Durham Bulls tripled with less than two outs and both times G-Braves pitching limited the damage.
Mike Mahtook tripled in the second to score the game’s first run, but starter Daniel Rodriguez stranded him there. With the game tied at 1-1 in the fifth, Roman Ali Solis led off with another three-bagger and it took two outs before Ray Olmedo singled in the Bulls’ second run.
At 2-1, the Gwinnett Braves were close enough to make a charge.
But with one out in the eighth, with reliever Ryan Buchter pitching and two runners on base after a lead-off single and a walk, Justin Christian struck the third blow. Christian cleared the bases with a two-RBI triple and later scored on a sacrifice fly giving the Bulls a 5-1 win over the G-Braves.
“That third one pierced the gap with guys on (base),” Gwinnett Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
The loss squandered a second solid outing for Rodriguez, who backed up his first one-run perforance with another strong effort. The lefty again pitched five innings allowing two runs off five hits. He struck out four and walked two. This is the 29-year-old’s second season beginning with an affiliated professional team and he hasn’t disappointed. He nearly escaped his lone hiccup in the fifth with a strikeout and a ground out before the go-ahead triple.
“Man, I wanted him to get out of that inning with the lead-off triple,” Snitker said. “He kept it right there for us to win.”
Peadro Beato followed with two scoreless innings in is first minor-league action since Atlanta optioned him to Gwinnett on Wednesday.
“He threw great,” Snitker said. “We wanted to get him in and get him active. That was good to see.”
The bullpen trouble arrived in the eighth with Buchter allowing the final three runs in just 2/3 of an inning.
The G-Braves cranked out five hits in the game, three from Phil Gosselin. The third baseman continued his hot streak with his fourth straight multi-hit game going 3-for-4 and upping his early-season batting average to .542.
“You want to start fast every year,” said Gosselin who hit .357 in 20 games with the Atlanta Braves during spring training. “It’s easier said than done.”
Gosselin, who made his major league debut with the Braves last season, spent almost all of the spring with the big leaguers and took advantage of the added time.
“Confidence is the biggest thing,” Gosselin said. “It proves you can play with those guys.”
Tommy Le Stella, who struck out twice, led off the second with a single and scored on Christian Bethancourt’s RBI groundout for the only G-Braves run of the game. Todd Cunningham had the other G-Braves hit with a single to start the third, but was left standing on third base.