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Walden effective, G-Braves beat Rochester

LAWRENCEVILLE — Jordan Walden got through the first inning without a glitch in his rehab outing and the regular Gwinnett Braves took it from there Sunday.

Ian Thomas got his first save in relief of winner Zach Stewart and Christian Bethancourt continued his hot hitting in the G-Braves’ 4-2 victory over Rochester at Coolray Field.

Stewart (4-3) allowed six hits over 5 2/3 innings and one of the Red Wings runs was unearned as his ERA dropped to 3.88.

Thomas got an out to end the seventh inning with two inherited runners on and then worked around a pair of walks over the finally two innings, getting a pair of strikeouts.

The G-Braves (32-30) got all their runs on RBI doubles, with Bethancourt in the first inning, followed by Steve Lerud and Phil Gosselin in the second and then Ozzie Martinez in the sixth.

Bethancourt, batting in the cleanup spot for the first time this year, also had a single as he extending his hitting streak to seven games and Joe Leonard’s triple gave Gwinnett five extra-base hits.

The loss was just the seventh in the past 27 games for Rochester (36-27).

The Red Wings are tied with Syracuse for first place in the North Division of the International League, while Gwinnett trails Durham by 4 ½ games in the South Division.

Walden walked the first batter, but struck out two while throwing 19 pitches, 12 of them strikes, in his second rehab outing with the G-Braves.

“Hamstring felt good,” he said. “I didn’t have any issues with it again, so that was a positive.”

Walden hasn’t pitched for Atlanta since May 4 because of the strained left hamstring. His second rehab appearance was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was pushed back.

“My arm just needed an extra day of rest,” he said. “I didn’t feel like the command was there, but I battled through and got a couple strikeouts.”

Walden struck out three against Columbus on Thursday, but the last victim reached on a wild pitch and then former Atlanta teammate Elliot Johnson smacked a fastball from Walden for a two-run homer.

Afterwards, the right-hander said he was uncomfortable working out of the stretch.

“It wasn’t a good thing that I walked (the first batter), but tested myself from the stretch early and it felt a lot better this time around,” he said.

Walden didn’t know after his outing whether the Braves would activate him or schedule another rehab effort.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Hopefully I get to meet up with the team in Colorado, but at this point I have to wait and hear what they have to say.”

Atlanta has a four-game series at Colorado on Monday through Thursday.

The Gwinnett-Rochester series concludes with games Monday and Tuesday, both at 6:35 p.m.