SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Brian Johnson jump-started the second half of the season with a seven-inning gem, and the Pawtucket Red Sox strolled by the Syracuse Chiefs, 5-0, on Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium.
The PawSox (45-44) opened the four-game series and climbed back over the .500 mark by out-hitting the Chiefs (32-56), 12-3, and earning their fourth shutout win in their last six games. Pawtucket has now logged 13 shutout victories this season, the most in the International League. PawSox pitchers, who have already combined on five two-hitters this season, collected their second three-hitter in a span of three games.
Johnson (W, 3-1), who was officially added to Pawtucket's roster before the game after being optioned from Boston in his return from a left shoulder impingement, only allowed three hits across his seven shutout stanzas. The southpaw walked two, fanned two, used just 90 total pitches and lowered his Triple-A ERA to 2.68. Johnson's former college teammate, Austin Maddox, followed with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Brandon Workman buttoned up the victory with a perfect ninth - capped by a strikeout on a wicked curveball.
Syracuse starter Jacob Turner (L, 0-1) ceded four runs on seven hits and a pair of walks over five innings.
Pawtucket right fielder Aneury Tavarez (2-for-5), first baseman Ryan Court (1-for-3, RBI, 2 BB), center fielder Brian Bogusevic (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and catcher Dan Butler (3-for-4, 3 R, RBI) paced a well-balanced offensive attack.
The PawSox placed five straight aboard to begin the top of the third inning. Butler supplied an RBI single past shortstop, Court coaxed a bases-loaded walk and Bogusevic lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 3-0.
In the fifth, Bogusevic yanked an RBI single through the right side to plate Butler and stretch the margin to 4-0.
Pawtucket loaded the bases again in the seventh inning, and cleanup man Steve Selsky stung an RBI single back through the box to extend the lead to 5-0.
The PawSox continue their four-game series in Syracuse on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 6:35 p.m.
The PawSox return home Monday and remain at McCoy Stadium for a seven-game homestand through July 23. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.