Matt Tuiasosopo continued his red-hot July with two home runs, but the Gwinnett Braves scored three in the bottom of the eighth inning to win the series opener 6-3 over the Charlotte Knights. The loss was the first for the Knights in six games at Coolray Field this season.
Tuiasosopo’s two-homer performance pushed his total to nine this month, and six in his last eight games. Since the first of the month, Tuiasosopo is batting .266 (21-79) with nine homers, 21 RBIs, and four doubles. He leads all International League hitters in home runs and RBIs in that span, and is tied with teammate Micah Johnson for most extra base (13) hits this month. His solo home run in the first inning gave the Knights a 1-0 lead and his two-run blast in the fifth tied the game 3-3, where the score remained until the G-Braves three-run eighth.
Johnson and Jason Coats also added multihit efforts on Friday night, each contributing a 2-for-4 performance. Coats accounted for one of the team’s three runs, coming in to score on Tuiasosopo’s fifth-inning homer.
Kyle Drabek was activated from the disabled list on Friday in order to make his 16th start of the season for the Knights. The former first-round pick allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings and did not factor in the decision. The outing was Drabek’s fifth consecutive start of six innings pitched with two or fewer earned runs allowed.
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Ryan Weber (4-1, 1.56) earned the win by tossing five innings of two-run ball in relief of G-Braves starter Sugar Ray Marimon. The 24-year-old allowed only four hits, with both runs coming on the Tuiasosopo two-run blast in the fifth inning. Peter Moylan came on in relief of Weber and tossed a perfect ninth frame to earn his first save of the season.
Junior Guerra (2-4, 3.86) was saddled with the loss after allowing three runs over 1 2/3 innings pitched. The 30-year-old Venezuela native is now 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in six relief appearances. He’s 1-3 with a 3.25 ERA in seven starts with the Knights this season.
The Knights and G-Braves will continue their weekend series with game two from Coolray Field on Saturday night. International League strikeouts leader Erik Johnson will get the start for Charlotte in the 7:05 p.m. matchup against right-hander Kanekoa Texeira.