One run was all the Augusta GreenJackets bats could muster, but that was all Kevin Couture and his bullpen needed.
Couture, pitching as a starter for the first time in almost two years, threw five scoreless innings and relievers Derek Law, Steven Neff and Cody Hall took care of the rest in a 1-0 win over the Rome Braves.
A Rome fielding error and a wild pitch set up Elliott Blair for an RBI single in the fourth inning. The GreenJackets spent the rest of the night grounding into a season-high four double plays, negating the team’s five remaining hits.
But the lone run was enough for Couture, who made the best of a spot start by scattering five hits, walking none and striking out one.
“He did a heck of a job for his first start,” manager Lipso Nava said. “That’s what we need from every starter every time. A start like that takes the pressure off the bullpen.”
The San Francisco Giants’ 32nd round pick two years ago missed the entire 2011 season because of shoulder surgery and said he didn’t think he’d ever find himself in a starting rotation again.
“I was a little surprised. I didn’t think I’d be a starter anymore (after the injury),” he said. “I actually felt better out there tonight as a starter than a reliever, because I got to warm up and get ready and everything.”
Couture (2-1) posted a 1.89 ERA in 11 relief appearances this year before taking Paul Davis’ spot in the starting rotation. The bullpen took over in the seventh with little problem.
Rome (6-29) turned four double plays in a five-inning stretch but failed to give starter Rafael Briceno (2-4) any run support. The 21-year-old right-hander allowed one unearned run in on five hits and three walks over six innings.
Reliever Ryan Weber gave up one hit and no runs over the final two innings.
The Braves extended their losing streak to a season-high 13 games, closing to within single digits of the South Atlantic League record of 22 consecutive losses by the Charleston Pirates in 1975.
The GreenJackets have won four of their past six games.
With South Atlantic League president Eric Krupa in attendance, the game was delayed in the top of the seventh inning due to lightning in the area.
Play resumed after a 37-minute delay.