Charlotte Knights

Knights win, close first half in first place

Three pitchers combined Sunday on the Charlotte Knights’ eighth shutout of the season in a 2-0 victory against the Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park.

The victory extended the Knights’ winning streak to three games and gave Charlotte sole possession of first place in the South Division of the International League at the conclusion of the first half. Norfolk is second, a half-game back.

The Knights are in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 2012. That team made it all the way to the Governors’ Cup finals.

Micah Johnson led off the game with a double and later scored on a throwing error by catcher Steve Clevenger. The run turned out to be all the Knights needed thanks to solid pitching from starter Scott Carroll and the bullpen.

Carroll made his first start since being optioned to the Knights from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday and allowed four hits in four innings. Carroll (3-2, 2.10 ERA) has made seven starts with the Knights after spending most of the season in the White Sox bullpen.

Matt Albers (1-0) took over for Carroll in the fifth inning and earned the victory after retiring all six batters he faced. Albers, who is on a major league rehab assignment from Chicago, has not allowed a run in five of his seven appearances with the Knights since joining the team June 26.

Junior Guerra replaced Albers in the seventh inning and pitched three shutout innings to earn the save in his third relief appearance with the Knights this season. His first save of the season came five days after he recorded his first career victory in Class AAA.

Kevin Gausman (0-1), making his first appearance for Norfolk since being optioned from the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, allowed one unearned run over five innings.

The Knights held their one-run lead all the way until the ninth inning, when Drew Garcia reached on an infield single, moved to second on an error and then scored on consecutive wild pitches by Cesar Cabral to give the Knights a 2-0 cushion.

The two unearned runs were a rarity for Norfolk, which came into the game leading the International League with 22 unearned runs yielded this season.

The Knights resume play after the break at home, opening an eight-game homestand at BB&T BallPark at 7:05 p.m. Thursday with a four-game series against Norfolk.