LOUISVILLE, KY -- The Gwinnett Braves collected 15 hits and won their third game in a row with an 8-5 win over the Louisville Bats in game one of a four-game series on Thursday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
The win, combined with Durham's 6-4 loss at Charlotte, moved Gwinnett (44-49) into sole possession of third place in the International League South Division.
The G-Braves jumped on Louisville starting pitcher and former Brave Tim Gustafson in the very first inning. Luis Durango reached first on a one-out bunt single, stole second base and scored on a double to left by Felix Pie. The hit gave Gwinnett a 1-0 lead after a half inning.
The Braves added to the total in the top of the second. Jose Yepez led off the inning with a single, but was forced out at second on a bunt attempt by Gwinnett starting pitcher Todd Redmond. Jose Constanza followed with a single to right-center moving Redmond to second. The single extended Constanza's hitting streak to 15 games, breaking the previous Gwinnett franchise record 14-game shared by Pie and former G-Braves' first-baseman Barbaro Canizares.
Durango followed Constanza's record hit with a triple to left-center, clearing the bases and giving the G-Braves a 3-0 lead heading to the bottom of the second.
But Redmond struggled in the bottom of the inning. Xavier Paul doubled to left, and Paul Janish and Cody Puckett followed with singles to load the bases with no one out. Gustafson singled to left scoring Paul, cutting Gwinnett's lead to 3-1. Denis Phipps hit into a 4-6 force play scoring Janish from third to make it 3-2 Gwinnett. Didi Gregorius then plated Gustafson from third with a sac fly to right to tie the game 3-3. The throw from Pie in right got by Gwinnett catcher Yepez allowing Phipps to advance to second. Henry Rodriguez then plated Phipps with a single to center giving the Bats a 4-3 lead.
The G-Braves tied the game in the top of the fourth as Yepez led off with a single and was bunted to second by Redmond. Constanza singled moving Yepez to third and Durango followed with a single to left, scoring Yepez to make it 4-4.
The Bats, however, would take a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Phipps singled to right with two outs and scored the go-ahead run from first on a double to left by Gregorius.
Gwinnett tied it at 5-5 in the top of the fifth as Christian Marrero drew a one out walk off of Louisville reliever Carlos Fisher. An infield single by Lance Zawadzki put runners on first and second, and then a double steal by Marrero and Zawadzki moved the runners to second and third. Yepez followed with a sac fly to right scoring Marrero with the tying run.
In the top of the seventh, the Braves broke the tie and took the lead for good. With reliever Nick Christiani pitching, a two-out double to right by Marrero was followed by an RBI single to center from Zawadzki for a 6-5 lead.
The Braves added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth off of reliever Jordan Smith. Pie led off the inning with a long double to left and scored on a single to center by Marrero making it 7-5 Gwinnett. Zawadzki followed with his third hit of the game, a double to left, scoring Marrero with the final run giving the Braves an 8-5 lead.
Redmond worked five innings in his 17th start of the season for the Braves. He allowed 10 hits and four earned runs while striking out four. Buddy Carlyle (W, 5-3) picked up with win in relief. He worked two scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts. Jaye Chapman (S, 5) worked the final two scoreless innings for the save. He struck out four.
Gustafson worked four innings, giving up eight hits and four earned runs. He walked three and struck out three. Fisher gave up one earned run and one hit in his one inning of work while walking one. Christiani (L, 0-5) pitched two innings with two hits and one earned run. He also struck out two. Donnie Joseph worked one scoreless inning with one hit and one strikeout. Smith gave up three hits and two earned runs in the ninth inning. He walked one and struck out two.
At the plate, Durango and Zawadzki each went 3-for-5 for the Braves. Durango had three RBIs and Zawadzki two. Pie, Constanza, Marrero and Yepez each had two of the Braves' 15 hit attack. The 15 hits equaled a season high for Gwinnett, a total reached twice before.
Gregorius, in his first ever Triple-A game, went 2-for-4 for the Bats. Rodriguez was 2-for-5.
Game two of the series in Louisville is set for Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Yohan Flande (3-6, 3.83) is scheduled to start for the G-Braves against Bats' right-hander Sean Gallagher (6-6, 5.06). Listen to the broadcast on WDUN AM 550 in Gainesville, Georgia with Tony Schiavone calling the play by play.