Zelous Wheeler's two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted Norfolk to a 4-3 comeback win over the Gwinnett Braves Saturday night at Harbor Park.
Trailing 3-2 in the eighth, Norfolk rallied against Braves relievers Joe Beimel (1-1) and Cory Rasmus to take the lead. Jason Pridie and Henry Urrutia ignited the comeback with consecutive one-out singles off of Beimel, and Russ Canzler followed with a walk against Rasmus to load the bases for Wheeler. Wheeler then grounded a 3-2 pitch up the middle, plating Pridie and Urrutia to give Norfolk a 4-3 lead.
Tides closer Jairo Asencio made the lead hold up, as he struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning to register his league-leading 18th save of the season.
Wheeler's game-winning single upped his hitting streak to 10 games, over which he's batted .375 (15-for-40) with a home run and five runs batted in. The 26-year-old, who is batting .312 in 39 games with Norfolk, has now hit safely in 25 of his last 30 games.
Gwinnett had taken a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning on a two-out solo home run by Ernesto Mejia off of Jon Rauch (1-0). Mejia's blast was his 20th of the season, tied for the second-most in the IL.
The win was Norfolk's third straight and improved the Tides record to 20-15 in one-run games this season. The 35 one-run games are the second-most in minor league baseball, trailing the 37 one-run contests played by Gwinnett (16-21). Six of the seven games between the two clubs this season have been decided by one run, five of which have been won by the Tides.
Tides starter Tsuyoshi Wada turned in his third straight impressive outing, taking a no-decision after yielding two runs on five hits in 6.1 innings of work. Wada, who struck out six and walked two, threw 63 of his 92 pitches for strikes before departing with the score tied at 2-2 in the seventh. He surrendered an RBI double to Matt Pagnozzi in the second inning and a solo homer to Phil Gosselin in the third before retiring 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.
Wada, who was pitching on five days' rest, has now posted a 3.09 ERA (8-ER, 23.1-IP) in four starts when pitching with an extra day of rest. In those outings, the 32-year-old southpaw has 20 strikeouts and five walks.
Braves starter Cody Martin was impressive in taking a no-decision, allowing two runs on three hits in seven strong innings. Martin tied his season-high with 11 strikeouts, and he now carries a 1.29 ERA in his first three starts at the Triple-A level.
The only runs Norfolk could muster against Martin came in the fifth inning, as Brandon Waring worked a two-out walk before Chris Snyder belted a two-run homer.
The two teams will continue their five-game series Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park, with first pitch slated for 1:05. Josh Stinson (3-4, 4.66) will make the start for Norfolk against right-hander Kameron Loe (2-2, 3.47).
Notes: Right-hander Jair Jurrjens was recalled to Baltimore Saturday and pitched in relief for the Orioles in their victory against New York… L.J. Hoes singled twice to up his average to .387 (29-for-75) over his last 20 games…Norfolk improved to 6-1 against Gwinnett this season…Over his last seven games, Jason Pridie has batted .370 (10-for-27) with five runs scored… Sunday is Bark at the Park day at Harbor Park, where fans can bring their dogs to the stadium for a special afternoon of baseball with their four-legged friends.