LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – Rio Ruiz homered and drove in five runs to guide the Gwinnett Braves (60-72) to a 6-4 victory over the Buffalo Bisons (64-69) Thursday night at Coolray Field.
With the win, the G-Braves swept the seven-game season series from Buffalo, earning the club’s first season-sweep of an International League opponent since moving to Gwinnett in 2009.
The G-Braves, winners of three in a row, remain a half-game behind first-place Charlotte (61-72) in the IL South Division race with 11 games left. The Knights beat Durham 12-7 at BB&T Ballpark.
Ruiz reached base safely all four times Thursday, working a pair of walks and scoring twice. He crushed a two-run home run an estimated 375 feet off Bisons’ starter Scott Copeland (L, 3-2) with two outs in the third to break a 1-1 tie that the G-Braves wouldn’t surrender.
In the fifth inning, Ruiz laced a bases-clearing double into the left-field corner against Copeland as Gwinnett had the first six batters reach base in the frame to break the game open. Emilio Bonifacioled off with a double and Reid Brignac walked before Mel Rojas Jr. singled to load the bases. It was Ruiz’s team-best 21st double of the season.
The five RBIs by Ruiz tied a season-high for Gwinnett, set by Rojas Jr. on July 7 at Charlotte, and was the third time in his career he registered five RBI in a game. His career-high is six RBI, set on June 11, 2014 for Advanced-A Lancaster vs. Rancho Cucamonga in the Houston Astros’ system.
Each team scored in the second inning, as Dalton Pompey worked a bases-loaded walk against G-Braves’ starter Jed Bradley (W, 2-0) for Buffalo and Daniel Castro tied the game on a sacrifice fly.
Bradley, making his second start for Gwinnett after a promotion from Double-A Mississippi, matched a season-high with 7.0 innings of one-run ball, holding the Bisons to five hits. The left-hander struck out six and walked four, throwing 64 of his 110 pitches for strikes.
Atlanta Braves’ reliever Chris Withrow, making his first MLB rehab appearance since landing on the 15-day disabled list on August 5, yielded a solo home run to Matt Dominguez leading off the eighth. But the right-hander avoided further damage, getting a pair of groundouts and a strikeout to end the inning.
The Bisons got a pair of runs in the ninth against Kanekoa Texeira, but the G-Braves’ righty struck out Chris Colabello looking with runners on the corners to preserve the win.
Bonifacio and Rojas Jr. each had two hits for Gwinnett and Rojas Jr. scored twice.
Andy Burns reached all four times, on three hits and a walk for Buffalo and Dominguez had two hits and two RBI.
The G-Braves hit the road for a quick three-game road trip to Durham, beginning Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (6-3, 2.91) is scheduled to start for the G-Braves against righty Austin Pruitt (8-9, 3.34) for Durham. Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 6:35 p.m.