The Charlotte Knights found a good way to break out of their recent slump, and the right time.
The Knights rode a big first inning to the lead, and held on for an 8-3 victory over the Buffalo Bisons on Wednesday at BB&T BallPark to snap a five-game losing streak.
Charlotte (60-52) broke things open with five runs in the bottom of the first inning, then added a pair of home runs to remain in the hunt for the International League’s wild-card spot.
While the Knights are tied for second in the IL South division with Gwinnett (59-51), five games behind division leader Norfolk (64-46), both are just 1½ games behind IL West runner-up Columbus (61-50).
Charlotte finished with 14 hits Wednesday, with Jason Coats and Drew Garcia belting three hits each and Rob Brantly and Kevan Smith adding two each.
Coats had a solo home run, his 13th of the season, in the bottom of the fourth, putting the Knights up 6-0. Brantly – in just his second game with Charlotte – belted his first homer, a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth.
Starter Kyle Drabek got the win for the Knights, throwing four innings of shutout ball. Drabek (6-6) went 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs off six hits and four walks, with three strikeouts.
“It’s definitely nice to get back in the win column, that’s for sure. People like to talk about (the wild-card race), but we’re still a long ways from that. We just need to take care of business, and the players need to come in here and play games. It’s something that makes it interesting, but their focus is on the game.” – Charlotte manager Joel Skinner.
Knights closer Junior Guerra picked up his second save, allowing just one hit over the final two innings. He also had one strikeout. … Ex-Knights catcher George Kottaras, released by the Chicago White Sox on Monday, was back at BB&T BallPark on Wednesday. He was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays earlier that day and assigned to the Bisons, making it to Charlotte in time for the game.
The Knights wrap up their series against the Bisons on Thursday at BB&T BallPark. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Brad Penny (5-5, 3.90 ERA) will start for Charlotte, while left-hander Randy Wolf (7-1, 2.48 ERA) will be on the mound for Buffalo.