LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- With Atlanta Braves' outfielder Jason Heyward in the lineup on a rehab assignment and a season-high 8,878 fans at Coolray Field for Belk Education Day, the Gwinnett Braves (12-23) scored a season-high nine runs but still fell to the Pawtucket Red Sox (21-13), 14-9 on Thursday afternoon. Heyward went 0-for-5 with a walk as the G-Braves lost for the 12th-consecutive game.
Heyward, playing in his first minor league injury rehab game as he recovers from an appendectomy, struck out three times, grounded out once, walked once and also popped up to catcher Dan Butler in foul territory for the game's final out.
Gwinnett fell behind early and couldn't keep up with a hot Pawtucket offense. Starter Roman Colon (L, 0-2) gave up five runs on six hits over 3.0 innings in a spot start.
In the first inning, one-out singles by Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway set up a sacrifice fly by Mark Hamilton, making it 1-0. An inning later, the PawSox tacked on three more as Jeremy Hazelbaker drove in two with a double and later scored on a throwing error by catcher Matt Kennelly.
Kennelly atoned for the mistake with his bat, smacking a two-run homer to left field off Pawtucket starter, knuckleballer Steven Wright. The blast, Kennelly's first at the Triple-A level, was just the start of a big offensive day. He added a sacrifice fly in the fourth and an RBI double in the ninth, finishing 2-for-4 with a season-high four RBI.
Hamilton answered Kennelly's clout with a solo shot off Colon in the third, raising Pawtucket's lead to 5-2. Things got out of hand in the fourth, as the Red Sox plated five runs on six hits against reliever Cole McCurry. Lavarnway, Hamilton and Brandon Snyder keyed the attack, as they all connected for RBI doubles. Lavarnway's double brought in two.
Facing a 12-4 deficit in the sixth, the G-Braves clawed back with two outs. With the bases loaded on two walks and a hit, Joey Terdoslavich singled home a pair and Brandon Boggs doubled two more runs in, cutting the deficit to 12-8. All four runs were earned to reliever Chris Carpenter.
Following two more earned runs allowed by Ryan Buchter, Andrew Russell turned in 2.0 scoreless innings to keep the game within reach. Gwinnett entered the ninth trailing by four, but Wirfin Obispo allowed two more runs, including a solo home run by Bryce Brentz and an RBI single by Hazelbaker, to give the PawSox a 14-8 lead.
Kennelly's RBI double in the ninth made it 14-9, but the G-Braves would get no closer. Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith limited Gwinnett to an unearned run on two hits over the final 2.0 innings.
Wright (W, 2-1) ended up with the win for Pawtucket, allowing four runs, three earned on six hits over 5.0 innings and striking out six.
In addition to Kennelly's big day, Alden Carrithers went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and reached base in all five of his plate appearances. Paul Janish went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored, and Terdoslavich finished 1-for-5 with two RBI.
Seven members of the Pawtucket lineup posted multi-hit games, including Hamilton (2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI), Snyder (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) and Hazelbaker (2-for-4, 3 RBI).
Following an 0-8 homestand, the Gwinnett Braves return to the road for the start of a four-game series at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday night. Game one against the RailRiders is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET at Scranton's PNC Field. Right-hander Michael Lee (3-1, 3.42 ERA with Double-A Mississippi) is expected to make his first start for the G-Braves against Scranton/WB right-hander Chris Bootcheck (4-0, 0.60). Tony Schiavone will call the play-by-play on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM.
The G-Braves' next home game at Coolray Field is Saturday, May 18 vs. Louisville, first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM. Tickets for all Gwinnett Braves home games are on sale now at the Coolray Field Box Office. Call (678) 277-0340 or visit gwinnettbraves.com for more information.