LAWRENCEVILE, Ga. – The PawSox mustered just enough to deny the International League’s winningest pitcher, Julio Teheran, another decision Friday night. The Gwinnett Braves ace, who entered with a 12-2 record and a sparkling 1.11 ERA, nearly preserved a 2-1 lead through seven innings, but instead left with a 2-2 deadlock at hand.
Not long after they cleared that hurdle, Che-Hsuan Lin seized upon the last call for redemption in the top of the ninth. Facing a newfangled 3-2 deficit, the Sox loaded the bases with two outs to bring up Lin, who was 0-for-4 and had twice stranded Hector Luna in scoring position earlier.
This time, Lin singled to left to score Luna and Daniel Nava, usurping the lead. A subsequent passed ball by Braves reliever Dustin Richardson invited Jose Iglesias home, effectively finalizing a 5-3 victory before 6,542 spectators at Coolray Field.
Through the first two innings, Teheran tossed a pair of 1-2-3 frames while the PawSox forced the Braves to strand a cumulative three runners.
Hector Luna broke the ice for the Pawtucket offense with a one-out double in the third. The next inning, Ryan Kalish led off with a single to shallow right, stole second with Lars Anderson at the dish and gave the Sox a 1-0 edge on Anderson’s base hit.
The Braves pulled even in the bottom of the fifth upon loading the bases for a rehabbing Brian McCann. The six-time Major League All-Star blooped a single to shallow right, pushing everybody ahead one bag and scoring Wil Nieves for the equalizer.
Hideki Okajima succeeded PawSox starter Tony Pena, Jr. to commence the sixth. On his watch, Wilkin Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice that left him on first while cutting down Brandon Hicks at second.
Ramirez subsequently stole second with Brandon Gutay at the dish. In turn, Gutay ended a 10-pitch at-bat with a rolling single up the middle to plate Ramirez and grant Gwinnett a 2-1 edge.
Having garnered merely two-thirds of an inning, Okajima was lifted in favor of Jason
Rice upon walking the bases loaded.
Interspersing that sequence, Teheran retired seven consecutive batters, but was touched again for a 2-2 draw in the top of the seventh. Nate Spears nailed a two-out single, advanced to second on Luna’s third hit in as many confrontations with Teheran, stole third and scored on Jose Iglesias’ infield single.
Rice authorized the second Gwinnett lead in the eighth as Ramirez belted a first-pitch, lead-off homer to raise a 3-2 upper hand. The Sox were apt to take that hand down for themselves at the eleventh hour.
Scott Atchison salvaged the win for Rice in the home half of the ninth, sandwiching a groundout assist with a pair of swinging strikeouts.