The Augusta GreenJackets did more damage against Rome Braves starter Matt Harrison than anyone has all season, but it didn't matter.
Harrison earned his fourth win of the year as the Braves beat the GreenJackets 6-5 at Lake Olmstead Stadium. The win snapped Rome's four-game losing streak. Augusta still holds a 2-1 lead in the four-game series.
Augusta nearly pulled off another ninth-inning comeback, but shortstop Marcus Sanders watched three consecutive strikes to strand the tying run at second base and the winning run at first.
Harrison came into the game with a 3-1 record and 0.49 ERA, having allowed two earned runs in 37 innings. The GreenJackets scored five off the 6-foot-5 lefty, who allowed 10 hits in six innings as his ERA climbed to 1.47.
Augusta (20-13) did get some good news out of the loss, though. Leading hitter Brian Horwitz returned from an 11-game absence as the designated hitter and didn't seem to miss a beat. Hitting fourth, Horwitz had an RBI double and two singles in his first three at bats. He finished 3-for-4.
But even Horwitz's return couldn't help the GreenJackets keep pace with the first-place Charleston RiverDogs, who beat Columbus 3-1.
The Braves (17-16) took an early lead on Augusta newcomer Ben Thurmond - a recent addition from high-A San Jose - with four runs over the second and third innings. The fourth inning belonged to the GreenJackets, who used a four-run outburst to tie the game. Sanders just beat the tag at home on a double by Horwitz, who scored on a two-out single up the middle by Simon Klink.
Mike Wagner tripled home Klink and scored on a single by Dayton Buller to cap the inning. The Braves weren't done yet, though. They came right back in the top of the fifth on a double by Ben Thomas that chased Thurmond. They took a 6-4 lead on Michael Rozema's double in the sixth off reliever Caleb Salankey, who fell to 3-3 with the loss.
Wagner picked up his second RBI of the night in the fifth inning on a line out to right field that cut Rome's lead to one run, but missed opportunities in the seventh and ninth innings to tie the game.
Sanders singled with two outs in the seventh and moved to third with a stolen base and an error, but Braves reliever Dan Smith got Jon Armitage to fly out to left field to strand Sanders.
With two outs in the ninth, pinch hitter Carlos Sosa singled up the middle and moved to second on a single by Alex Requena to bring up Sanders, who already has one game-winning hit at home. Sanders couldn't deliver a second game-winner as the bat never left his shoulder.
Reach Kristy Shonka at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.