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PAWTUCKET â€” Mauro Gomez ended his slump in a big way on Thursday afternoon.
The veteran first baseman delivered a two-out, two-run double into the right-field corner in the bottom of the eighth inning to erase a one-run deficit and lift the Pawtucket Red Sox to a 6-5 victory over the Rochester Red Wings in the finale of their four-game series at McCoy Stadium
Gomez, who was an International League All-Star with the Gwinnett Braves last year, came into this contest with just four hits in his last 45 at-bats, two of them coming in Wednesday nightâ€™s 5-2 win over the Red Wings.
On Thursday, Gomez was 1-for-3 when he stepped to the plate in the eighth. A two-out single by Jose Iglesias, followed by a fielding error on a grounder by Lars Anderson, put runners in scoring position for him.
Red Wings manager Gene Glynn then went to the bullpen to bring in hard-throwing righthander Anthony Slama (26 strikeouts in just 15 1/3 innings of work) to face Gomez, but that move backfired.
Gomez lifted an opposite-field shot to right that got caught in a breeze, kept slicing away from right fielder Matt Carson, and bounced into the corner. Iglesias and Anderson scored with ease, and the I.L. East-leading PawSox were on their way to improving to 22-13.
â€śHeâ€™s a good hitter, and good hitters donâ€™t go into slumps very long,â€ť added PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler. â€śHeâ€™s a dangerous guy, and I know he gets pitched tough all the time, but he took a good pitch and he went with it. He didnâ€™t try to do too much with it with the wind blowing, and it worked out.â€ť
The runs batted in were the 30th and 31st of the season for the 27-year-old slugger, who currently sits second in the league in RBIs (31), hits (39), and home runs (10) and is enjoying his first season with Pawtucket.
â€śIâ€™m happy about the start that Iâ€™m having right now,â€ť Gomez noted through a translator, catcher Mike Rivera. â€śIâ€™ve been working hard this year and Iâ€™m happy to help the team and have a good start like Iâ€™m having right now.â€ť
The Red Wings jumped on the board in their opening swings, when with one out and no one on base, Pedro Florimon crushed a 1-0 pitch from Pawtucket starter Brandon Duckworth over his teamâ€™s bullpen in right field and into the parking lot for a home run.
But the PawSox scored three times in the second to claim the lead. They tied the score on a run-scoring double to right by Nate Spears that was just out of the reach of Carson in right and went ahead when Rochester starting pitcher Luke French was called for a balk, allowing Alex Hassan to trot home.
A few pitches later, Tony Thomas later gave the hosts a 3-1 lead by driving in a run with a groundout, but the Red Wings reclaimed the lead in the third on RBI doubles to left by J.R. Towles and Carson, sandwiched around a run-scoring single to center by Ben Revere.
In the top of the fifth, the visitors upped their lead to 5-3 on a two-out, run-scoring double to the gap in right-center by Clete Thomas, but in the home half of the frame, the PawSox knotted the score.
Spears led off with a hustle double to center, and an out later, he came home on a long triple by Tony Thomas that he smacked deep into the gap in right-center. Three pitches later, Thomas then tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Che-Hsuan Lin.
Again, the Red Wings grabbed the lead, this time in the seventh off reliever Alex Wilson, as Revere legged out an infield hit with one out, stole second, and scored on a line single to right by Florimon, but Gomez and Pawtucket would strike an inning later.
The Red Wings tried to answer back one final time in the ninth by putting runners in scoring position with two outs, but Pawtucket righty and former Houston Astros closer Mark Melancon entered the contest and silenced the threat by striking out Florimon for his third save in as many chances.
â€śThe guys battled back well,â€ť added Beyeler. â€śWe pitched well and kind of kept matching what they were doing. We kept coming back and then we got the big hit when we needed it.â€ť
After a season away from the big leagues, Daniel Nava is shipping back to Boston. The outfielder, who spent all of 2011 with the PawSox after playing in 60 games with the Red Sox in 2010, was batting .316 with 17 RBIs in 27 games for the PawSox.
To make room for Nava on Bostonâ€™s 40-man roster, southpaw reliever Justin Thomas was designated for assignment, and to add Nava to the parent club, reliever Clayton Mortensen was sent down to Pawtucket.
Nava, who batted .268 in 121 games with Pawtucket, got off to a rocky start this season and found himself batting just .188 two weeks ago before turning things around. In his last 10 games, he hit .447 (17-for-38).
Mortensen, who began the season with the PawSox before being called up to Boston on May 2, returns to Pawtucket despite post an 0.96 ERA and 0.64 in 9 1/3 innings of relief.
Thomas actually began the year in Boston, but after allowing four runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, he was sent down to Pawtucket and had a 3.38 ERA in 5 1/3 innings of work.
NOTES: Spears led the PawSoxâ€™s 10-hit attack with three hits, two of them doubles. It was his first three-hit game since April 30. ... Iglesiasâ€™s hit gives him 13 hits in his last eight games. ... Will Inman, the third of four pitchers used by the PawSox, picked up the win. ... PawSox catcher Ryan Lavarnway got the day off. ... The Columbus Clippers will now come to town for a four-game series that begins tonight at 7:05 p.m. PawSox righty Doug Mathis (1-2, 6.15) will be opposed by the Clippersâ€™ Chris Seddon (3-1, 4.18). ... And Saturday promises to be an eventful day at McCoy. In the 6:05 p.m. contest, Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his second rehab start for the PawSox, but prior to the game, from 2-3:15 p.m., the PawSox will host the first of four free youth clinics inside the stadium for youngsters of all ages. In Saturdayâ€™s game, the PawSox will also give the first 3,000 young fans ages 14 and under a PawSox photo ball featuring color action photos of Iglesias, Lavarnway, and current Boston Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks.