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06/03/2008 11:21 PM ET
Gnats have five-homer first inning
Bouchard's three-run blast caps impressive early outburst
Matt Bouchard has homered in back-to-back games following a 43-game drought. (Tony Farlow/MLB.com)

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The Savannah Sand Gnats were shut out by the Columbus Catfish for the final eight innings Tuesday night. They did more than enough damage in the first.

Savannah cranked five homers in a seven-run opening frame and cruised to a 7-4 victory over the reeling Catfish.

Greg Veloz and Michael Parker started the game with solo homers to give the Sand Gnats a quick 2-0 lead. After Casey Craig struck out, Jordan Abruzzo launched another solo shot to left field. Two batters later, Francisco Pena went yard with the bases empty to make it 4-0.

Joaquin Rodriguez walked and Carlos Guzman singled before Matt Bouchard delivered the biggest blow of the inning, a three-run blast to center field.

"That was amazing. I've never seen anything like that," said Bouchard, who also homered in Monday's 2-1 triumph at Columbus. "Hitting is contagious and when you get some momentum going your way, I guess it's hard to stop."

Savannah manager Donovan Mitchell was equally impressed.

"I've never been part of five home runs in an inning or anything like that. The most I've ever seen in an inning is three," he said. "It wasn't like they were going up there trying to hit the ball out, it was just one of those things."

All five homers came off former fourth-round pick Glenn Gibson (1-8), who recovered from the rocky start and yielded only two hits over the next three innings. He finished with six strikeouts but was charged with all seven runs on eight hits and suffered his South Atlantic League-leading eighth loss.

"You always try not to relax after an inning like that," Bouchard said. "In our case, the pitcher just made some adjustments and we had some good at-bats but just couldn't get anything else done."

The seven-run cushion was plenty for starter Scott Moviel (4-7), who allowed three runs on five hits over six innings to snap a personal three-game losing streak.

The Catfish scored single runs in the second and third before Omar Luna hit his first homer of the season to cut the margin to 7-3.

Sand Gnats reliever Brant Rustich allowed a run on a wild pitch in the seventh before Julio Polanco tossed two scoreless innings to close out Savannah's fourth win in five games.

"We're just trying to have a strong finish to the first half," Mitchell said. "Hopefully, we can put ourselves in a position to make a little run and play better in the second half than we did in the first."

The five homers were the most allowed by Columbus this season. Mitchell said his team can't be overly enamored with the long ball after one impressive inning.

"Hopefully, tomorrow they won't be swinging for the fences. They still have to have a good approach and use the whole field," he added.

Columbus' 12-game losing streak matches the longest in the Minors this season.

Rob Jemella is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.