G-Braves blow out Pawtucket 10-1

LAWRENCEVILLE - For the second straight night, the Gwinnett Braves faced a Pawtucket Red Sox knuckleball pitcher.

Only this time, it wasn't just any knuckleball pitcher - it was a master.

Veteran right-hander Tim Wakefield threw well during his rehab assignment from the parent club in Boston on Saturday - his first outing since being sidelined with back and lower body ailments July 8.

However, the G-Braves got just enough of him to take an early lead, and then feasted on the Paw Sox's bullpen for a 10-1 victory before 10,099 fans at Gwinnett Stadium.

Brooks Conrad and Barbaro Canizares each drove in two runs, while Todd Redmond and Jon Huber combined to stifle Pawtucket to just five hits as the G-Braves (69-52) maintained their two-game lead over Durham in the International League South Division.

Wakefield's outing came a night after the G-Braves roughed up Pawtucket's other knuckleball pitcher - Charlie Zink - for six hits and six earned runs in 41/3 innings.

While the 17-year major leaguer's knuckler was considerably more effective Saturday, G-Braves manager Dave Brundage was pleased with how his team battled it.

"We stayed with the same approach we took into last night," Brundage said after the G-Braves drew seven walks and had nine hits off Wakefield and three Pawtucket relievers on the night. "We showed a lot of patience and didn't try to do too much as individuals. Guys took their walks and passed it along to the next guy."

They made Wakefield work, as the right-hander threw 63 pitches over 32/3 innings.

Almost half of those - 30, to be exact - came in the second inning when Gwinnett struck for two runs on Reid Gorecki's two-out, two-run single to jump out in front 2-0.

Other than that, Wakefield had his knuckler dancing before leaving to a hearty ovation from a handful of Red Sox fans sitting above the Pawtucket dugout.

His line was befitting of the unpredictability of the fluttering pitch - three hits, two earned runs, three strikeouts, a walk and a hit batsman.

"It felt good (being out on the mound after a month layoff)," Wakefield said. "It was a little awkward at first facing hitters at first. I just threw a simulated game (in Boston) last week, but it was nice to be able to come down here and face live hitters."

Once Wakefield left the game, the G-Braves went to work on the Paw Sox's bullpen, turning three hits, three walks and an error into five runs in the sixth that broke open a one-run game and extended their lead to 7-1.

And as solid as Wakefield was, Redmond and Huber were even more effective.

Redmond (8-6) battled for six innings, giving up just two hits and one run, while walking three and striking out six.

"It was a great outing," Redmond said. "Our offense came to hit. ... And no matter what the situation, you've got to go out and command your zone, establish your fastball and get ahead in the count."

Huber then came on in the seventh and pitched the final three innings, scattering three hits and a walk and striking out two to earn his first save of the season.

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What happened: Reid Gorecki's two-run single in the second off 17-year Major League veteran Tim Wakefield - on an injury rehab assignment from the Boston Red Sox - gave the G-Braves the lead and Todd Redmond and Jon Huber made that lead stand up by limiting Pawtucket to just five hits.

Gorecki, Brooks Conrad and Barbaro Canizarez each drove in two runs and the G-Braves drew seven walks on the inning, and broke the game open with a five-run fifth that included three hits and three bases on balls.

Stat of the day: Diory Hernandez's stolen base in the second inning was the 108th by the G-Braves in 150 attempts - a 72 percent success rate.

It was also Hernandez's seventh of the season, leaving him just three away from becoming the seventh G-Brave to reach double figures for the season, joining J.C. Holt, Gorecki, Chris Burke, Conrad and Wes Timmons.

Pivotal moment: With Pawtucket having already cut the G-Braves' lead to 2-1 in the fifth, the Paw Sox looked poised for even more runs with a runner on first and one out.

Redmond and Clint Sammons pitched out on the first pitch to Bubba Bell and caught Gil Velasquez breaking for second. Sammons, Hernandez and Timmons then executed the rundown to clear the bases and Redmond struck out Bell to keep the G-Braves' lead intact.

Worth noting: With a single and a walk, Timmons extended his streak of reaching base at least once to 47 straight games.

That leaves him just eight games short of the 55-game streak set by Andy Green of the Tuscon Sidewinders, the most since the International and Pacific Coast Leagues began keeping the record in 2005.

On deck: The series with the Paw Sox continues with a 2:05 p.m. today. Right-hander Jonny Venters (2-5, 6.08 ERA) takes the mound for the G-Braves, while Michael Bowden (4-5, 3.23) gets the start for Pawtucket.