PENSACOLA, Fla., - Homer Bailey got the start Friday for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and got the win as part of his MLB rehabilitation from elbow surgery to remove bone spurs.
Behind Bailey's strong outing, Pensacola downed the Mississippi Braves, which entered the game in second place, with a, 6-2, victory in front of a sellout of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Bailey, the seventh pick in the first round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2004, retired the side in the first inning throwing 11 pitches, eight for strikes. He struck out Ronald Acuna, who MLB Pipeline.com ranks as the No. 7 prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization, on an 87-mph slider.
He finished the fifth inning by getting the Mississippi lineup out 1-2-3, striking out Mississippi right fielder Connor Lien for the last out.
For the game, Bailey threw 64 pitches, 42 for strikes in five scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five.
Bailey was scheduled to pitch just four innings, he said. He joked that it was his first Double-A win since he was with Chattanooga in 2006.
"They asked how I felt and I said, 'Man, I feel great,'" Bailey said. "Can you go another one? I said, 'Yes' I didn't know how many pitches I had and I didn't want to know."
Bailey had been throwing at the Reds training camp in Goodyear, Ariz. He said he enjoyed playing in his first real game this season.
"The biggest thing was getting used to the lights and sounds against more advanced hitters," said Bailey, who was happy he was "staying in the zone" with all four of his pitches.
He walked one batter, second baseman Luis Valenzuela, in the third inning on four straight pitches.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly liked what he saw on the mound from Bailey and what he heard after the game. Bailey made a rehab start last year with the Blue Wahoos on April 26.
"He looked good," Kelly said. "I know he was excited to see some competition and get under the lights. Last year, when he finished up he complained of forearm soreness."
Bailey has been on the disabled list each of the last three seasons. He had a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm in 2014. Then in 2015, he tore an ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. It limited him to six starts in the 2016 season.
"All the signs tonight pointed in real good directions," said the 11-year Major League veteran. "I can't change things in the past. It's about going forward."
Meanwhile, Pensacola supported Bailey in his outing giving him a 4-0 lead. In the second inning first baseman Eric Jagielo leadoff with a single and scored when shortstop Blake Trahan hit a grounder into right field to put the Blue Wahoos up, 1-0.
Pensacola scored two more runs in the third inning when second baseman Alex Blandino doubled, his 18th of the season, to drive in both Gabriel Guerrero and Aristides Aquino to give the Blue Wahoos a, 3-0, lead.
In the fourth, Pensacola left fielder Tyler Goeddel leadoff the inning with a double on a grounder down the third base line and scored on a Guerrero groundout to second base making the score, 4-0.
Pensacola starter Keury Mella came in relief of Bailey and gave up two runs in the sixth inning to Mississippi. Braves catcher Kade Scivicque smacked a single to center field that scored both pinch hitter Jared James and Valenzuela to pull Mississippi within, 4-2.
But Mella settled down and got the last 10 batters he faced out, striking out three to earn the first save of his professional career.
"I really liked the way he threw in the eighth and ninth inning," Kelly said.
Mella also helped himself at the plate hitting a double in the seventh inning that scored shortstop Blake Trahan and capped the scoring, 6-2.
Braves Andres Santiago made his first start this season with Double-A Mississippi Braves and gave up four earned runs in 3.2 innings. The righty has appeared in 11 games, all in relief, with Triple-A Gwinnett, Low-A Rome Braves and High-A Florida Fire Frogs since the Atlanta Braves picked him up March 20.
Pensacola is 35-26 and remains in first place in the Southern League South Division where they've been in all but six days this season.
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos host the second game of the five-game series against the Atlanta Braves Double-A affiliate the Mississippi Braves at 6:35 p.m. Saturday. The M-Braves starter is RHP Mike Soroka (7-3, 2.73) against the Blue Wahoos RHP Tyler Mahle (7-2, 1.66).
Because the Blue Wahoos scored five runs or more, Blue Wahoos fans can get 50 percent off online orders to Papa John's using the code word WAHOOS.
The games are broadcast live on the Blue Wahoos flagship station 97.1 The Ticket. Listen for free at bluewahoos.com and by using the TuneIn Radio app on your mobile, desktop or home devices.
You can watch the home games delayed on Cox Sports Television Monday through Thursday on Channel 319. Friday, Saturday and Sunday games are broadcast live on BLAB-TV.
BIG FISH Shortstop Blake Trahan was 2-3 with a walk and knocked in two runs...First baseman Eric Jagielo went 2-3 with two walks and scored twice...Center fielder Gabriel Guerrero was 2-5 with two doubles, a run and one RBI. He has 23 multi-hit games...Third baseman Josh VanMeter got a single and a double in four at bats and walked...Second baseman Alex Blandino hit his Southern-League leading 18th double and had two RBIs.
Tickets to the 2017 Southern League All-Star Game are on sale now! Purchase tickets online at bluewahoos.com or visiting the Box Office. Orders can also be placed over the phone by calling 850-934-8444. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are the Double-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of the Southern League. Follow the Pensacola Blue Wahoos at BlueWahoos.com, facebook.com/PensacolaBlueWahoos and twitter.com/BlueWahoosBBall.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.