Pawtucket starter Matt Barnes cooled off the hot Buffalo offense by tossing 7.1 strong innings and third baseman Garin Cecchini hit a three-run double as the PawSox up-ended the Bisons, 6-2, Monday night at Coca-Cola Field to move back into sole possession of first-place in the IL wild card standings.
Barnes (8-8) limited the Bisons to two runs on four hits while striking out four and walking only two. The right-hander is now 3-0 in five starts this month and has allowed only five runs in 34.2 innings pitched (1.30 ERA). Cecchini’s bases-clearing double opened the scoring in the fourth against Buffalo starter Brad Mills (1-1).
With the win, Pawtucket (75-62) snapped a three-game skid and moved to within 3.0 games of first-place Syracuse in the North Division with seven games remaining, pending the result of the Chiefs game at Lehigh Valley. Buffalo (73-62) had its five-game winning streak snapped and is now 1.0 games behind the PawSox in the wild card race.
Justin Henry and Alex Hassan each collected three hits on the night, and that duo’s back-to-back singles began the three-run fourth-inning rally off of Mills. One out later Travis Shaw worked a walk to set the stage for Cecchini, who lined his three-run double into right center.
Henry doubled with two outs in the fifth and Hassan singled him home to make the score 4-0. The Bisons scored two runs on two hits and an error in the sixth against Barnes, including a two-out RBI single by Brett Wallace that brough Buffalo within 4-2.
The PawSox plated a pair of two-out runs in the seventh that were charged to reliever Rob Rasmussen, who allowed a single to Corey Brown and a walk to Jackie Bradley, Jr. With two outs Hassan collected another RBI single, this time against Kyle Drabek to make the score 5-2. A passed ball on catcher George Kottaras then plated the final run.
Chris Hernandez relieved Barnes with one out in the eighth and recorded the final five outs to finish the victory.
The finale of the four-game series is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:05 pm, as Pawtucket looks earn a split and leave New York with sole possession the wild card lead. PawSox left-hander Henry Owens (2-1, 3.51) is slated to start against Buffalo lefty Daniel Norris (3-0, 1.08). Radio coverage on 920 AM (WHJJ) and also streaming online begins at 5:50 pm.
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