MOOSIC – Saturday night was bark in the park night at PNC Field.
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders stuck with that theme biting Gwinnett late for a 4-3 win to win their second straight and hand the Braves their 14th straight loss.
For the second straight night, the RailRiders got a tie-breaking hit in the bottom of the eighth. On Saturday, Melky Mesa doubled home Thomas Neal – who played in his first game since April 24 being on the disabled list with a hamstring injury – to break the 3-3 tie.
On Friday, New York’s rehabbing outfielder Curtis Granderson homered to help the win.
“I definitely wasn’t going to try to do anything stupid there I was just going to use my baserunning instincts there to try to make sure I get good turns and make the distance shorter from first to home,” Neal said. “And Melky did a good job of hitting that ball in the corner so I could get around.”
For the second straight night the RailRiders put up double-digits in hits tallying 11 on Saturday.
They got things started early as 12 batters came to bat in the first two innings. Corban Joseph, who led off the game with a double, scored on a double play grounder for a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second SWB sent eight batters to the plate and scored two more on run-scoring singles by Bobby Wilson and Granderson to push the lead to 3-0.
Granderson had two hits in four trips to the plate, but was also the only batter to strikeout against Braves starter Omar Poveda fanning twice.
“Legs wise I felt good and that’s the big thing right now just getting the legs back,” said Granderson, who was the designated hitter but is expected to play the outfield the last two games of the series before possibly being activated by New York on Tuesday. “The main thing is I’m not really worried about the results I’m just looking to execute the plan and the approach and execute that whatever it may be and we’re getting there.
“The last two at bats he made some adjustments and we struggled with that, but that’s a part of baseball.”
Chien-Ming Wang, who started for SWB was cruising along only allowing two baserunners until running into trouble in the fourth. He gave up three straight hits to Ernesto Mejia (double), Brandon Boggs (single) and Todd Cunningham (single) to start the frame. Cunningham’s single scored Mejia. Wang did get the next three batters out to minimize the damage, but Boggs came home on a groundout to trim the SWB lead to 3-2.
Two innings later, Mejia got to Wang again hitting the first pitch he saw from Wang in the top of the sixth over the video wall in right field for his International League-leading ninth home run this season to tie the game at 3-3.
Again Wang rebounded from that rough patch to retire eight of the last 10 batters he faced.
He also managed to keep his pitch-count low only throwing 82 pitches through seven innings getting Braves batters to roll over into 18 groundouts on the night as his sinker was working perfectly. By doing that, he achieved the high-water mark for a RailRider pitcher this season going 7 2/3 innings. He threw 101 pitches with 62 of them strikes and walked just one.
Granderson wasn’t the only Major League all-star at PNC Field. Jason Heyward, Atlanta’s all-star outfielder on a rehab assignment with Gwinnett, went 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.