PAWTUCKET, R.I. - A trio of Pawtucket Red Sox pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts, as the PawSox logged their fourth consecutive win in a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Clippers on Thursday night at McCoy Stadium.
The PawSox (58-59) scored all three runs in the first two innings, which served as plenty of offense for starter Brian Johnson (6 K) and relievers Marcus Walden (6 K) and Chandler Shepherd (4 K). On the heels of an eight-game losing streak, Pawtucket has now won four straight heading into the second meeting of the four-game set with the Clippers (61-57).
"We've gotten off to a good start," Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. "Hopefully we can continue that because we've run into some stretches where we're playing from behind. But we've been able to score early in games, and hopefully we can just continue to do that. That's been consistent here lately."
In his second start since returning from the disabled list and left shoulder inflammation, Johnson worked four innings of one-run ball in which he walked four and allowed three hits, totaling 76 pitches. Walden (W, 10-4), meanwhile, cruised through three scoreless frames with his half-dozen punchouts. The hard-throwing Shepherd (S, 2), who leads Pawtucket relievers in strikeouts, added two effective innings to secure the win.
Pawtucket designated hitter Bryce Brentz (2-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI) continued his torrid stretch and his flirtation with the PawSox history books, as he connected on his 26th home run of the season.
"It's just a day in and day out grind to try to find that feeling," Brentz said of being in a hot stretch. "Today, my BP wasn't that great. I didn't feel good in BP. But we still get the work in the cages and go out there and compete. That's the biggest thing: going one at-bat to the next and not letting whatever happened before affect the next at-bat and just keep competing every pitch."
Columbus starter Adam Plutko (L, 5-12) maneuvered through 6.2 innings in which he scattered seven hits and a pair of walks and yielded three runs to go along five strikeouts.
Brentz started the scoring in the bottom of the first when he vaulted a towering two-run home run near the left-field bullpen.
In the second, Pawtucket stretched its lead to 3-0 when catcher and No. 9 hitter Jake Romanski worked the count full and slapped an RBI single into right field to plate shortstop Heiker Meneses, who had yanked a one-out double into the left-field corner.
Columbus climbed on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning when first baseman Nellie Rodriguez supplied an RBI single to center field, trimming the gap to 3-1.
In the top of the ninth, Columbus pinch-hitter Adam Moore laced a solo home run to the bleachers in right-center field to cut the margin in half, 3-2. However, Shepherd responded by handling a comebacker and striking out the final batter to stamp the victory.
The PawSox continue their four-game series with the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Indians) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. Rehabbing PawSox left-hander Roenis Elias (0-3, 10.54) is scheduled to oppose Clippers righty Julian Merryweather (3-3, 5.37). 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 seven-game homestand runs through Sunday (August 13). 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.