LAWRENCEVILLE — Despite 10 hits, the Gwinnett Braves (52-55) struggled offensively in a 4-1 loss to the Norfolk Tides (49-60) on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Coolray Field. The G-Braves had at least one player reach base in eight of the nine innings, but left 10 on base for the game.
After being shut out on Sunday in Syracuse, the G-Braves were quick to score on Monday against Tides’ starter Tyler Wilson. Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna opened the first inning with singles to put runners on the corners. With Dansby Swanson at the plate, Acuna broke for second and was thrown out, but Albies was able to dash home with the game’s first run.
In the third, the Tides took a 2-1 lead against Gwinnett starter Aaron Blair on a two-run triple to left by Chris Johnson. Norfolk added another run in the third as Logan Schafer’s sacrifice fly scored Chance Sisco to increase the lead to 3-1.
Neither starter would give up another run for the rest of his outing. In the sixth, Blair yielded a leadoff single, but Swanson erased it by starting an inning-ending double play. Blair ended his start by inducing a ground out from Johnson to finish the top of the seventh.
Blair (L, 6-6) matched his longest start of the season with 7.0 quality innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out five.
For the Tides, Wilson (W, 4-6) worked around a hit and a walk to pitch a scoreless sixth inning to end his night. He gave up one earned run on eight hits while walking three and striking out six over 6.0 innings.
The G-Braves threatened against Norfolk reliever Matt Wotherspoon in the seventh as Carlos Franco doubled and David Freitas was hit by a pitch, but neither could score as Wotherspoon struck out the next three Gwinnett hitters to escape the jam.
Philip Pfeifer made his Triple-A debut for the G-Braves in the eighth and retired the side with three fly-outs. The Tides added a run off rehabbing Atlanta Braves reliever Jason Motte in the ninth to stretch the lead to 4-1, which proved to be more than enough.
After Wotherspoon, the Tides combined to get two thirds of a scoreless inning from Andrew Faulkner. Jimmy Yacabonis (S, 9) tossed the final 1.1 innings.
Offensively, the G-Braves were led by Dustin Peterson, who went 3-for-4 with a double. Acuna and Franco each recorded two hits while Swanson went 1-for-3 with a walk in his Coolray Field debut.
For Norfolk, Paul Janish went 2-for-3 with two runs scored while Schafer and Mike Yastrzemski also recorded two-hit games.
In game two of the series on Tuesday night, the G-Braves are scheduled to start right-hander Kris Medlen (1-3, 5.94 ERA) against Norfolk right-hander Mike Wright (3-4, 3.97 ERA). First pitch at Coolray Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.