After devoting the middle of the week to giving first place in the International League North the hot-potato treatment, the Pawtucket Red Sox inched back ahead of the Rochester Red Wings Friday night.
A five-run outburst in the third inning put the Sox on pace to a 6-2 victory, ensuring a split of their four-game set with the Wings and of their eight-game homestand. At 13-10, Pawtucket sits half a game ahead of Rochester, which holds two games in hand and an 11-10 transcript.
Each side hatched its goose-egg in the third, albeit with a vast discrepancy in emphasis. After shedding first blood, the PawSox batted around to raise a 5-1 upper hand.
With two away in the road half, the Red Wings landed runners at the corners with the help of a walk and a throwing error by Garrin Cecchini. As if on cue, Chris Parmelee deposited a single to right to score Danny Santana for the first run.
Sox centerfielder Corey Brown retorted in the bottom half when he belted Trevor May’s first offering over the left-center fence for a leadoff homer. Three plays later, with Justin Henry on board via a walk, Christian Vazquez helped Pawtucket to a 2-1 edge through an RBI double.
Back-to-back walks filled the bags and Bryce Brentz nudged in a pair of additional runs by dropping his own two-bagger into deep center. Cecchini followed that by shooting to the straightaway warning trach for a sacrifice fly, more than enough to bring home Ryan Lavarnway.
Rochester promptly put two men in scoring position to commence the fifth with a single for Chris Rahl and a double by Dan Rohlfing. But Doug Bernier’s sacrifice fly, which plated Rahl, amounted to the lone visiting run of the inning.
Vazquez and Daniel Nava gave Pawtucket the same start to its half of the same inning with a two-bagger and base hit, respectively. Lavarnway proceeded to fire a liner to left and score Vazquez for a 6-2 advantage.
Back-to-back two-out singles by Deibinson Romero and Eric Farris went for naught in the top of the sixth. Ditto Rohlfing’s leadoff walk in the seventh and Romero’s two-out BB in the eighth.
Rohlfing walked once more with one down in the ninth. But Brown's catch on the centerfield warning track and Bernier's strikeout repressed Rochester's last threat.
Two nights after being optioned from Boston, Nava percolated several solid sequences on offense in his first Triple-A appearance of the season. He reached base three times through a single and two walks and stole second with one away in the seventh.
That move arguably prolonged the inning as he subsequently advanced to third while Brentz grounded out on the next pitch. Although, he would end the inning when his attempt to swipe home failed.
Brentz, who patrolled right field, bailed out Cecchini and foiled a run to end the top of the first. He retrieved the remnants of Cecchini’s errant throw to first and zapped Doug Bernier at the plate for the third out.
With his two doubles, Vazquez now has five two-baggers in his last six games played and six in his last nine.
Cecchini was less fortunate in the wake of his error in the third than he was on his botched toss in the first. If not for Brentz’s aforementioned initiative, the third baseman would have been liable for two consecutive unearned runs on 2014 debutant Matt Barnes’ tab.
Brandon Snyder struck out in all four of his plate appearances, taking a total of 18 offerings from three different pitchers. He incurred two of those “Ks” during the PawSox’ productive third and fifth innings, leaving a cumulative five teammates hanging.
Red Wings Notes
May mustered a mere three innings before giving way to Brooks Raley to commence the fourth. He authorized five earned runs on three hits and four walks with six of his seven baserunners coming in that fateful third.
By the middle of the sixth, every Red Wing had reached base through at least one hit or walk. Farris, who entered Friday's action tied for fourth among qualified I.L. leaders with a .354 batting average, was the lone visitor to record two hits.
Brown’s longball made him the ninth Pawtucket player to record a home run in 2014. He previously led the Syracuse Chiefs with 25 dingers in 2012, tied for that team’s lead with 14 in 2011 and placed second with 19 last year.
Barnes threw five full innings in his first start of the season, incurring six hits and two runs (one earned) while walking and fanning a pair apiece.
With his sac fly and three walks, Cecchini gained no official at bats Friday night.
The opposition has scored first, but managed only a 1-0 advantage, in each of the PawSox’ last three winning efforts.