Despite having allowed only five runs in his past four games, Charlotte Knights starting pitcher Kyle Drabek entered Tuesday winless this season.
But behind a three-run home run by Leury Garcia in the fifth inning, Drabek finally added a “W” to his win column, as the Knights cruised past the Columbus Clippers 9-5 in front of a crowd of 7,482 fans at BB&T BallPark.
Columbus got after Drabek early, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a RBI double by James Ramsey. But the Knights (26-19) struck back in the bottom of the inning. Matt Davidson led off with a home run – his second in two days – and Jason Coats singled in Trayce Thompson to put Charlotte ahead 2-1.
Drabek and the Knights ran into trouble again in the fourth. With two outs and a runner on first, shortstop Tyler Saladino mishandled a ground ball to keep the inning alive for the Clippers (25-21). Drabek walked the next two batters, scoring the tying run.
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The Knights right-hander ultimately escaped further damage, and his night ended after five innings, 93 pitches and seven strikeouts. In the Charlotte half of the fifth, Garcia rocketed a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left-center for a 5-2 lead, putting Drabek in line for the win.
The Charlotte bullpen surrendered three runs over he next four innings, but the Knights scored four runs in the eighth to clinch the win for Drabek.
Davidson’s home run in the second inning gives him eight on the year, which leads the International League. … Entering the bottom of the seventh inning 0-for-3, Michael Johnson singled to extend his hitting streak to six games. He has reached base safely in all seven games he has played with Charlotte.
“He’s pitched real well, He was coming out in spring training, wasn’t really stretched out. Came down from Chicago, and we plugged him into the rotation. So its been kind of a process just getting him stretched out. Tonight, again he worked hard, but the guys picked him up ... We scored some runs to get him the win there.” – Charlotte manager Joel Skinner on Draybek’s win.
The Knights and Clippers will square off in Game 3 of their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. Charlotte will be sending right-hander Shawn Haviland (1-2, 3.24 ERA) to the mound against right-hander Toru Murata (2-1, 2.85). Chris Beck originally was scheduled to start for Charlotte before being called up by the Chicago White Sox. He’ll make his major-league debut for Chicago on Thursday in Baltimore.