The Norfolk Tides fought back from another early deficit Friday night at Harbor Park, but fell for the fourth-straight night to the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves 5-3 in front of 3,067 fans.
Michael Ballard (1-2, 4.85) was shaky from the start and never fully righted himself in the loss. The Virginia Beach native walked the first two batters he faced but managed to retire the next three hitters and get out of the inning unscathed. He wasn’t so fortunate in the second inning.
Shawn Bowman broke through for Gwinnett with a double to right field that plated Mauro Gomez to take a 1-0 lead with runners at second and third base. J.C. Boscan followed with a bloop single to right field that scored both runners.
For the second-straight time, Ballard allowed the first two men to reach base as Gomez and Ed Lucas led off the second frame with consecutive singles. Shawn Bowman broke through for Gwinnett with a double to right field that plated Gomez and gave the visitors a 1-0 lead with runners at second and third base. Boscan followed with a bloop single to right field that scored both runners.
The home team fought back, eventually tying the score at 3 a piece on a Nick Green single that scored Josh Bell in the third inning. Craig Tatum’s two-run double in the second inning brought the Tides to within a run at 3-2.
Ballard’s night ended after four innings but not before he allowed the Braves to score the go-ahead run on a Wilkin Ramirez sacrifice fly that plated Boscan in the fourth inning. Ballard ultimately allowed four runs on seven hits during his time on the hill. He struck out four batters and walked four.
Stefan Gartrell added a solo home run in the seventh inning off Pat Egan to close out the scoring