Behind the pitching of right-handed starter Chien-Ming Wang and righty reliever Cody Martin, the Gwinnett Braves (18-23) beat the Columbus Clippers (23-18) by a 6-1 score Thursday night in game one of the four-game series at Huntington Park.
Wang (W, 1-4), in his first start off the disabled list, had his best outing as a G-Brave. He went 7.2 innings with eight hits allowed. He gave up only one unearned run and struck out two. Martin (S, 1), in his first Triple-A game since being optioned from Atlanta on Tuesday, was dominate in 1.1 innings with one hit and three strikeouts.
The G-Braves got on the board immediately in the top of the first against Columbus right-handed starter Toru Murata (L, 2-1). Eury Perez led off the game with a single to center, stole second base and scored on a single to left by Cedric Hunter for a quick 1-0 lead. Hunter then stole second base and scored the second run of the inning when Elmer Reyes' ground ball went under the glove of Columbus third baseman Giovanny Urshela and into left field.
Gwinnett added two in the top of the sixth off of Murata when Jose Peraza (1), playing in his first game since May 14, led off with a solo homer to left to up the lead to 3-0. Hunter followed with a single to left, and Sean Kazmar followed with a double off the wall in left center to put runners on second and third. Reyes was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Mycal Jones drew a one-out walk to push in another run and give the G-Braves a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the eighth, off of righty reliever Chen-Chang Lee, Hunter doubled to right, moved to third on a single by Kazmar and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Reyes to put the G-Braves ahead 5-0.
The only run of the game off of Gwinnett pitching came in the bottom of the eighth when a two-out error by Peraza prolonged the inning and allowed Tyler Holt to single in Adam Moore from third, cutting the Gwinnett lead to 5-1.
However, the G-Braves got that run right back in the top of the ninth when Perez led off with an infield single, stole second base, moved to third on a single to right by Peraza and scored on a sac fly to center by Hunter that gave Gwinnett its final five-run advantage.
Murata pitched 6.0 innings with six hits, four runs (three earned), one walk and two strikeouts. He was relieved by right-hander Anthony Swarzak, who worked a scoreless seventh. Lee went 1.0 inning with two hits, one run and one strikeout. Righty Austin Adams also pitched 1.0 inning with two hits, one run and one strikeout.
Offensively, Hunter was 3-for-4 with two runs, a double and two RBIs for Gwinnett. Perez, Peraza and Kazmar were each 2-for-5. Perez scored twice and had two stolen bases to up his International League-leading total to 21. Peraza added a homer a run and an RBI, while Kazmar scored once and stroked a double.
For the Clippers, Cleveland Indians’ catcher Yan Gomes, playing on a rehab assignment, was 2-for-4. Jerry Sands was also 2-for-4.
The G-Braves and Clippers battle in game two of the series beginning at 7:15 p.m. Friday night at Huntington Park. Right-hander Sugar Ray Marimon (2-1, 1.96) will be on the mound for Gwinnett. Columbus will start left-hander Michael Roth (4-1, 2.17). Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call from Columbus on 97.7 FM and WSBRadio.com beginning at 6:30 p.m.