LAWRENCEVILLE — Having a world-famous mascot visit Gwinnett Stadium on Friday night only served to mask the offensive woes for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves.
For the second consecutive night, the G-Braves (41-35) squandered scoring opportunities in a 7-5 loss to the Buffalo Bisons (26-45), this time with the much-anticipated San Diego Chicken entertaining the crowd with his antics.
"That’s baseball, you’re going to have those ups and downs and go through cycles like that," G-Braves outfielder J.C. Holt said. "The important thing is we’ve been playing good baseball, we’ve just got to be more consistent."
One thing that separated this game from Thursday’s is the fact that the G-Braves had little difficulty putting runners on the bases. The G-Braves finished the game with 12 hits.
However, leaving the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings was quite frustrating to G-Braves manager Dave Brundage, even with a big yellow chicken hamming it up between innings.
"We had some opportunities, we had some chances, we just dug ourselves a bit of a hole late," Brundage said. "But the important thing is that we didn’t lay down and quit, that’s for sure."
The G-Braves loaded the bases in the sixth inning, thanks to a string of two-out singles from Brandon Jones, Chris Burke, an RBI single from Holt, followed by a walk from catcher Clint Sammons. With the bases loaded, Barbaro Canizares struck out for the second consecutive night with the bases full.
Canizares entered the game in the sixth inning to pinch hit for Gwinnett starting pitcher John Halama. Despite hitting safely in 55 of 68 games this season, Canizares has been kept off the bases two nights in a row.
In the fifth, the G-Braves loaded the bases with one-out singles from Sammons, Brian Barton and a walk by Halama. The inning ended abruptly, however, when third baseman Wes Timmons grounded into a double play.
Still, Timmons managed a seventh-inning walk, extending his streak of games reaching base to 23. Jones, Burke, Greg Norton and Holt each finished the night with a pair of hits for the G-Braves.
Meanwhile, Buffalo capitalized on its opportunities with a pair of RBI singles from first baseman Emil Brown. Shortstop Javier Castillo added a one-out solo home run for Buffalo in the sixth inning, and finished the game with three hits. Bisons leadoff hitter Cory Sullivan had two doubles, a pair of singles and scored three runs. In the eighth inning, Jesus Feliciano drove in a pair of runs with a double off the right field wall.
Jones connected on an RBI single in the seventh for the G-Braves. Norton’s single in the ninth scored Timmons. Brooks Conrad added an RBI double in the ninth, followed by an RBI ground out by pinch hitter Alvin Colina.
"We put it together tonight, it was just a little late," Holt said.
Halama took the loss for the G-Braves. The journeyman major league pitcher threw six innings, allowing three earned runs, 10 hits with one walk. This marked Halama’s first start at Gwinnett Stadium, and third start with the G-Braves since being acquired earlier this month from the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, an independent league organization.
G-Braves reliever Deunte Heath didn’t fare any better, allowing five hits and four earned runs in 1 2/3 innings.
With the loss, the G-Braves drop to 11/2 games behind the Norfolk Tides in the International League South division. Norfolk defeated Pawtucket, 4-1, on Friday night.
The G-Braves play host to the Louisville Bats at 7 tonight at Gwinnett Stadium. The game will be broadcast on CSS.