LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - The Gwinnett Braves snapped their franchise-record 15-game losing streak with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the first place Charlotte Knights on Sunday at Coolray Field. Felix Pie was the hero in a two-run ninth, delivering a walk-off single to right scoring Tyler Pastornicky to give the G-Braves their first win since June 15.
The G-Braves were heading toward their 16th straight loss before fortunes turned in the ninth against Charlotte left-hander Donnie Veal. Facing a 5-4 deficit, Luis Durango led off with a bunt single and then advanced to second on Jose Constanza's sacrifice bunt. Pastornicky followed with a clutch double off a sliding Justin Greene in left-center, scoring Durango from second to tie the score at 4-4. The next batter, Pie, laced a 1-1 pitch from Veal (L, 3-2) to right field to score Pastornicky and send the home dugout racing on to the field in celebration.
Gwinnett had lost 27 of their previous 32 games dating back to May 30, including 25 of 30 contests in June before recording their sixth walk-off win of the year on Sunday. The G-Braves are now 1-1 on the four-game series, bringing them to within 10.0 games of Charlotte for first place in the International League South Division.
It was a back-and-forth game for most of the day as Charlotte took leads of 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4 on the strength of three home runs. G-Braves starter Todd Redmond served up a two-run blast to Dan Johnson in the first inning, another two-run shot to Kyle Shelton in the fourth and a solo homer to Dallas McPherson that snapped a 4-4 tie in the sixth. Redmond did not factor in the decision despite allowing five runs, three earned on seven hits, including a season high-tying three home runs over 5.2 innings.
The G-Braves offense proved resilient, however, as they tied the score at 2-2 in the third inning and 4-4 in the fifth. Pie's first hit of the day, an RBI double in the first inning, scored Constanza to cut the deficit to 2-1. Pie's 10th double of the year extended his hitting streak to 14 games, matching the Gwinnett franchise record set by Barbaro Canizares in late 2010.
Constanza singled and scored on a wild pitch from Brandon Kloess to tie the score at 2-2 in the third inning. Kloess allowed the inherited runner to score to the line of rehabbing right-hander Philip Humber. Humber, who threw the 21st perfect game in Major League history for the Chicago White Sox on April 21, allowed two runs on three hits over 2.1 innings in the start for the Knights.
After falling behind 4-2 in the fourth, Gwinnett came back with two more runs in the fifth off Brandon Kloess. Pastornicky ripped an RBI double scoring Constanza and later scored on a double down the left-field line by Ernesto Mejia.
Dusty Hughes and Buddy Carlyle (W, 4-2) worked a combined 3.1 scoreless innings in relief of Redmond to keep the G-Braves down by just a run heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Pie finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs, leading an 11-hit attack for Gwinnett. His game-ending hit sent the G-Braves to their ninth last at-bat win of 2012, the first since Lance Zawadzki's three-run walk-off homer defeated Lehigh Valley, 9-8 on May 28. Constanza (2-for-2, 3 runs), Pastornicky (2-for-4, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs) and Jose Yepez (2-for-4) also had multi-hit efforts.
Johnson went 2-for-4 with the home run and two RBIs and Shelton drove in two as well on 1-for-3 hitting to lead the Knights.
The Gwinnett Braves (38-47) play game three of the four-game series against the Charlotte Knights (47-37) on Monday night at Coolray Field, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM. Left-hander Yohan Flande (3-6, 3.84) is scheduled to start for the G-Braves against right-hander Matt Zaleski (3-2, 4.48) of the Knights. The game will be broadcast on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM in Gainesville, GA with Tony Schiavone calling the play-by-play.
Monday is "Kids Eat Free" night at Coolray Field, where all kids 12 and under will receive a voucher for a free hot dog, bag of chips and a small soda.
Tickets for all Gwinnett Braves home games are on sale now at the Coolray Field Box Office. Call (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com for more information.