The Charleston RiverDogs struck for three early runs, only to see their lead vanish Saturday night as they fell to the Rome Braves, 7-3, in South Atlantic League action at State Mutual Stadium.

The RiverDogs (41-30, 2-1) remain in first place in the Southern Division.

The Braves’ offense generated 16 hits, the second most allowed by the RiverDogs pitching staff this season. Rome struck for a run in the second inning, one in the third, three in the fourth and two more in the fifth.

Offensively, the Braves were led by designated hitter Edison Sanchez, who finished 3 for 4 with two doubles, a single and two runs scored. Jose Peraza did some damage for the Braves in the leadoff spot with a 3-for-5 night with three singles, an RBI and a stolen base. All nine Rome starters had at least one hit in the game.

Rome starter Williams Perez (5-3) had a rough start before settling in and shutting down the RiverDogs. Perez’s final line was five innings, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out six. Perez was relieved by Robert Fish, who allowed just a single in his two innings of work.

The RiverDogs got off to another quick start with an early run in the first inning. Jake Cave led off the game with a double, and following a Cito Culver strikeout, Greg Bird singled in Cave for the game’s first run. With the RBI, Bird has now knocked in six runs in the first three games of the series against the Braves (37-35, 1-2).

Cave, who drove in the RiverDogs’ final two runs with a single in the second inning, finished his evening 2 for 5 with a single, a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Cave also was the lone RiverDog to record multiple hits in the game.

RiverDogs starter Luis Niebla (3-4) lasted three-plus innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on a season-high 13 hits. He had two strikeouts.

Coming up

The finale of the four-game series at Rome is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday. Charleston sends LHP Daniel Camarena (0-3, 6.34 ERA) to the mound as Rome counters with RHP Mauricio Cabrera (1-4, 5.04 ERA).