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LAWRENCEVILLE — The eighth inning wasn’t kind at all to the Gwinnett Braves on Thursday at Gwinnett Stadium.
The G-Braves (33-28) dropped the series opener to Scranton-Wilkes Barre, 9-4, after allowing four hits, three walks and five runs in the eighth inning of the series opener.
The Yankees(36-24) Justin Leone broke a 4-4 tie with his two-run home run on the first pitch he saw. Then Doug Bernier added a two-run double, followed by an RBI single from Todd Linden. Boone Logan took the loss after giving up the home run to Leone in his only inning on the mound. The G-Braves also allowed nine walks and committed a pair of fielding errors on the night.
“The bottom line is that they took advantage of our mistakes,” G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said.
The G-Braves were in transition mode for the series opener. First baseman Barbaro Canizares was called up, and started, with the Atlanta Braves against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. Then, infielder Wes Timmons, carrying a 12-game hitting streak, was held out of the lineup following a strained hamstring in the series finale Tuesday against the Columbus Clippers.
G-Braves starter Deunte Heath was pulled with shoulder stiffness after allowing a walk to start the fourth inning. He allowed three hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings pitched.
The G-Braves lost despite a home run-saving catch by center fielder Brian Barton in the seventh inning. He perfectly executed a leaping save over the wall to straight away center off the bat of Yankees outfielder Todd Linden for the final out of the inning.
“That was an outstanding catch,” Brundage said. “I thought that was going to give us a little momentum, but we simply didn’t take advantage of it.”
The G-Braves took the lead in the third inning, scoring all four runs with two outs off Yankees starter Kei Igawa. The Yankees’ highly-paid pitching prospect allowed eight hits and four runs with four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings pitched.
G-Braves designated hitter Brandon Jones started the scoring with an RBI single that brought in J.C. Holt. Then Reid Gorecki scored for the Braves on a fielding error. Brooks Conrad followed with an RBI single that scored Jones from second. G-Braves catcher Alvin Colina’s RBI double plated Conrad for their final runs of the game.
In the third, Holt and Gorecki set the stage for the four runs with one-out singles.
Vladimir Nunez was the G-Braves’ lone bright spot out of the bullpen, allowing only one hit and one walk in relief of Heath.
He struck out two in his first appearance since taking the loss against Columbus on June 7.
The G-Braves looked ready to take a lead in the fourth inning after loading the bases with only one out.
Barton started the inning by legging out a bunt for a single, and Kody Kirkland followed with a single up the middle, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Gwinnett loaded the bases when Gorecki walked with one out. However, the G-Braves left the runners stranded when Antonio Perez struck out, and Jones flew out.
Gorecki led the G-Braves offensively with two hits and a walk.
Scranton-Wilkes Barre struck first with Linden’s solo home run in the second inning. Austin Jackson scored for the Yankees in the third on a bases loaded walk. Shelley Duncan added a two-run double for the Yankees in the fourth inning.
Gwinnett plays host to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at 7 tonight at Gwinnett Stadium.