(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) - Behind five home runs at the plate and a gem on the mound, the Charlotte Knights defeated the Columbus Clippers 8-2 to earn a split of their four-game series on Sunday night at BB&T Ballpark.
With the win, the Knights are still tied with the Durham Bulls atop the International League Wild Card standings, with both teams holding a record of 69-56.
The game began well for Charlotte starter Matt Tomshaw as the veteran lefty retired the Clippers in order to start the game. Making the start as part of a MLB rehab assignment, Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber took the mound for Columbus. In his only inning on the mound, Kluber issued walks to Daniel Palka and Zack Collins. But the Knights couldn't score as the game was scoreless after one.
Danny Mendick got the scoring started against the Columbus bullpen in the second with a 432-foot blast to left field for his 15th of the season for the game's first run.
An inning later, Nick Madrigal led off with a walk and Luis Robert followed with a two-run homer 376 feet into the left field stands to increase the Charlotte lead to 3-0.
The Clippers got a run on the board in the fifth against Tomshaw. However, that would be all the visitors could muster against the Charlotte lefty.
In the bottom of the frame, Charlie Tilson broke the game open in emphatic fashion with a 400-foot three-run shot to right, his third of the season, to make it 6-1 Knights.
Yermín Mercedes kept the homers coming to start the seventh inning with an opposite field homer to right, his 14th at the Triple-A level, giving Charlotte a six-run lead.
Down 7-1, the Clippers put former Chicago White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro on the mound in the eighth. Against him, Robert capped the home run parade for the Knights with a monstrous solo home run off the top of the scoreboard in left field for his second home run of the game and 11th with the Knights.
The five home runs proved to be more than enough support for Tomshaw (W, 3-1). Over 7.0 strong innings, he gave up just one run on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts to earn his third Charlotte win of the season. Zach Thompson gave up a run over the final 2.0 innings to finish the Knights' 15th win in their last 20 games.
All eight of Charlotte's runs came on home runs as Tilson and Robert each drove in three in the victory.
The Knights hit the road for a pivotal four-game series with the Durham Bulls starting on Monday night. Kyle Kubat (4-1, 4.81) is set to start for Charlotte. Pregame coverage of the 7:05 p.m. game is set for 6:50 p.m. on 730 The Game ESPN Charlotte. The "Voice of the Charlotte Knights" Matt Swierad will have the call for all of the action.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.