INDIANAPOLIS (IndyIndians.com) - Right fielder Starling Marte finished just a single short of the cycle on Monday night, his three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning leading the Indianapolis Indians to a 7-5 win over the Gwinnett Braves at Victory Field.
With one out in the home half of the fifth and Indianapolis down 4-3, CF Jose Tabata was hit by a pitch and advanced to second base on a single by SS Chase d'Arnaud, setting the stage for Marte's heroics. After a called strike and a ball, Marte launched a fastball beyond the fence in straightaway center field, a shot that went an estimated 410 feet. The home run, Marte's 11th of the season, gave the Indians a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish.
Marte, who finished the game a single short of the cycle, picked up his third hit of the night in the bottom of the seventh inning, smacking a triple into the left-center-field gap that rolled all the way to the wall. The triple was Marte's minor league-leading 13th of the season. Marte's 41 extra-base hits are the most among Indians players and at the time gave him the fourth-highest total in the International League.
In his first start since tossing a scoreless inning in the Triple-A all-star game, LHP Rudy Owens (5.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) picked up his eighth win of the season thanks in part to Marte's longball. Owens was also helped out of a sixth-inning, one-out-two-on jam when RHP Chris Leroux (1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) recorded a strikeout and induced a groundout, stranding two Gwinnett basesrunners. With closer Tim Wood having thrown in back-to-back games and three time in the past four days, RHP Evan Meek (1.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) tossed the ninth inning to earn his first save of the season.
RHP Randall Delgado (5.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 HR) made his first Triple-A start of the season on Monday night, taking the loss while allowing both Indianapolis home runs. Delgado had made 16 major league starts for the Atlanta Braves this season, going 4-9 with a 4.52 ERA. He was optioned to Gwinnett when Atlanta purchased the contract of RHP Ben Sheets from Double-A Mississippi; Sheets on Sunday pitched in the major leagues for the first time in nearly two years, picking up the win over the New York Mets.
Gwinnett scored a run in the top of the seventh when LF Jose Constanza raced home on a wild pitch, cutting the Indianapolis lead to one run, but the Indians scored an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning as 3B Yamaico Navarro scored on a deep sac fly by 2B Anderson Hernandez, giving the game its final 7-5 tally.
The Braves had drawn first blood in the contest, going up 1-0 in the top of the third as 1B Ernesto Mejia walked with two outs and scored on a double by RF Jordan Parraz, his sixth of the season.
A three-run fourth inning extended the Braves lead to 4-0 as catcher J.C. Boscan singled home former Indianapolis SS Josh Wilson and eventually scored on an infield single by Constanza. 2B Ruben Gotay had scored the middle run of the frame on a sacrifice fly by CF Luis Durango.
The Indians pulled within one run of Gwinnett in the bottom of the fourth. Marte led off the inning with his 17th double of the season, eventually scoring on a sac fly by 3B Yamaico Navarro. With two on and two out, C Tony Sanchez then launched an opposite-field home run over the fence in right field, his fifth of the season, cutting the lead to 4-3.
The Indians (60-36) and Braves (44-53) play game two of their four-game series on Tuesday night, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. LHP Jeff Locke (7-5, 2.95) is expected to get the nod for the Indians, while the Braves will likely counter with LHP Eric Junge (5-8, 4.76).
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