The Gwinnett Braves (17-21), behind the hitting of Barrett Kleinknecht and Mycal Jones, whipped the Toledo Mud Hens (14-23) 8-2 Monday night in the opening game of the three-game series at Fifth Third Field.
Kleinknecht and Jones each hit solo homers in the win. It was also the second multi-homer game of the season for Gwinnett.
The Mud Hens opened up an early lead by plating a run in the bottom of the first off of G-Braves' left-handed starter Manny Banuelos (W, 3-0). Daniel Fields, batting in the leadoff spot, was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a ground out. Steven Moya stroked a double to right center that scored Fields from second for a brief 1-0 Toledo lead.
The G-Braves rebounded a half inning later, as Sean Kazmar led off the top of the second with a single against Toledo left-handed starter Kyle Ryan (L, 0-5). Kleinknecht followed with a single to left, moving Kazmar to second. With the runners moving on the pitch, Jones stroked a single to left that drove home Kazmar to tie the game at 1-1. With two out, Eury Perez lifted a fly ball to short left field. Toledo left fielder Xavier Avery and shortstop Dixon Machado collided going for the ball, enabling both Kleinknecht and Jones to score for a 3-1 Gwinnett lead. Perez was credited with a double on the play, and Machado had to leave the game with an apparent leg injury.
In the top of the fourth, Kleinknecht delivered his home run. It was a one-out, solo shot to left to upped the lead to 4-1.
The Gwinnett lead grew in the top of the seventh, as Ryan walked Kleinknecht and was replaced on the mound by right-hander Melvin Mercedes. Kleinknecht moved to second on a balk and scored on a double to right-center by Joe Benson, giving the G-Braves a 5-1 lead. Perez tripled down the first base line to drive in Benson and make it 6-1. Perez then scored on a sacrifice fly to right field by Daniel Castro to extend the lead to 7-1.
The second Toledo run came in the bottom of the eight with two outs. Gwinnett right-handed reliever David Carpenter gave up a double to right to Jordan Lennerton, and he walked both Manny Pena and Josh Wilson to load the bases. Fields then drew a bases-loaded walk, pushing across Lennerton and cutting the lead to 7-2. However, Carlos Fisher (S, 1) entered from the Gwinnett bullpen and got Corey Jones to fly out to center to end the threat.
The G-Braves got that run right back in the top of the ninth when Jones lifted a one-out, solo homer to left off of Mercedes to return Gwinnett to a six-run lead.
Banuelos picked up a win and a quality start by going 6.0 innings with five hits, one earned run, one walk and six strikeouts. Donnie Veal pitched 1.0 inning with one hit and two strikeouts. Carpenter went 0.2 of an inning with one hit, one earned run and three walks. Fisher worked 1.1 innings.
Ryan lost to the G-Braves for the second time this season by going 6.0 innings with eight hits, five earned runs, one walk and six strikeouts. Mercedes pitched 3.0 innings with three hits, three earned runs and two strikeouts.
At the plate, Jones was 3-for-4 with two runs, a homer and two RBIs. Kleinknecht went 2-for-3 with three runs, a homer and an RBI. Perez was 2-for-5 with a run, an RBI, a double and a triple. Castro was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Wilson paced the Mud Hens with a 2-for-3 night.
The G-Braves and Mud Hens meet in game two of the series with a 10:35 a.m. first pitch Tuesday at Fifth Third Field. Left-hander Greg Smith (1-2, 2.45) will be on the mound for Gwinnett. Toledo will start RHP Tim Melville (1-4, 6.11). Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call from Toledo on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com beginning at 10:00 a.m.