SALEM, VA - Nathan Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with a double, Pat McInerney also doubled while going 1-for-4 and starter Matt Smith pitched through the fifth with three strikeouts and just one run allowed on one hit, but the Red Sox shut out the Mudcats 6-0 on Saturday night at Haley Toyota Field in Salem.
Salem (40-28, 65-70) broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with a run off Carolina (26-42, 65-72) starter Matt Smith while taking a 1-0 lead. The Red Sox then added five more runs in the eighth while running away with it late and taking their second straight game in the series.
Smith (L, 4-13, 3.67) ended up with the loss, but allowed just one run on five hits over five innings pitched. He originally worked through four scoreless frames to begin his final outing of the season before allowing a run in the fifth. He also struck out three and faced 20 while reaching 58 pitches (42 strikes).
Salem's lone run scored against Smith came in the fifth when Jagger Rusconi started the frame with a triple before scoring moments later on a sac fly from Tanner Nishioka. Rusconi went 2-for-3 with two runs, a walk and a triple in the game for Salem. Nishioka was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI.
Rusconi's run gave the Red Sox and starter Jhonathan Diaz a 1-0 lead in the fifth and ended up being enough as Diaz (W, 9-8, 3.86) and relievers Dominic LoBrutto and Yoan Aybar combined on a four-hit shutout of the Mudcats.
Diaz struck out eight, walked one and scattered three hits over seven scoreless frames while earning the victory. LoBrutto (H, 4) allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth and Aybar worked a scoreless final frame while striking out one and facing three to finish it.
Aybar would have been in line for a save chance had it not been for Salem's five run eighth. That frame saw them load the bases and score once against reliever Chris Dula, before then eventually clearing the bases and scoring a run against reliever J.T. Hintzen.
Dula hit a batter, allowed one hit and walked two while giving up four runs and retiring one batter in the eighth. The appearance was Dula's first with the Mudcats since May 29. Hintzen, meanwhile, inherited three from Dula and allowed all three, plus one of his own, to score while giving up two hits, walking one and striking out one while finishing the frame.
Salem's 6-0 victory gave them a two games to none lead in the series and lowered their magic number to clinch the Northern Division second half title down to just one. The shutout loss was Carolina's eleventh of the season.
The series will continue with Carolina's penultimate game of the season on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. in Salem. RHP Wuilder Rodriguez will start for the Mudcats in Sunday's game.
The game will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM and online at carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio. It will also stream in high-definition video on MiLB.tv via paid subscription.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.