Augusta GreenJackets right-hander Henry Sosa has been so dominant this season that when he allowed just one earned run Thursday night in another stellar outing, his ERA actually went up.
It still didn't affect his status as the South Atlantic League's - and the minor leagues' - best pitcher to this point.
Sosa, who may start in the SAL All-Star Game in a couple of weeks, allowed one hit - to the first batter of the game - and struck out seven in 5Q innings to lead Augusta to an 8-1 victory over the Savannah Sand Gnats in front of 4,030 fans at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
The Dominican fireballer was charged with one run, which scored after he left in the sixth inning, to raise his ERA from 0.67 to 0.76 - still tops in the minors by far. He won his third consecutive start to move to 6-0.
Augusta's Bobby Felmy went 3-for-5 with four RBI, including a two-run home run in the fourth that helped the GreenJackets build an early 7-0 lead off Savannah starter Tim Stronach.
The first-place GreenJackets (42-18) won for the eighth time in their last nine games and stayed 31 games ahead of Asheville and Columbus in the Southern Division standings. The magic number for Augusta to clinch the division's first-half championship is eight.
Augusta shortstop Emmanuel Burriss continued his torrid hitting with a two-hit night that extended his hit streak to seven games and raised his average to .391. He tripled, scored twice, and he is batting .643 in the last seven games.
Dayton Buller also had two hits and two RBI, and Henry Gutierrez went 2-for-3.
Last-place Savannah (18-42), which is 0-5 against Augusta this year, lost its third in a row entering the second game of the four-game series tonight. The GreenJackets improved to a league-best 23-6 at home with their sixth consecutive victory at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Tyler Graham, who had hit in all 16 games he'd played in around a groin injury, had his streak snapped with an 0-for-4 night.
The GreenJackets offense got to Stronach early, scoring a run in the first.
Burriss led off with a single, stole second and later scored on Felmy's opposite-field RBI single for the 1-0 lead.
Augusta opened things up further in the third off Stronach with four more runs to go up 5-0. Burriss tripled, Felmy singled in a run, Buller drove in two with a hit and Marcus Sanders came up with a RBI double.
With one swing, Felmy added two to Augusta's lead to make it 7-0 in the fourth. He belted a 3-and-1 pitch from Stronach over the right-field wall for a two-run shot, his sixth homer of the year.
Stronach beaned Brett Pill with his next pitch, his second hit batsman of the game, and followed that with a walk before exiting.
Sosa finally ran into trouble in the sixth, and he was relieved by Paul Lussier after a pair of walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases.
Lussier induced a grounder from Savannah's Joe Holden, which gave the Sand Gnats their run, charged to Sosa, to make it 7-1.
Augusta tacked on another in the seventh off reliever Todd Privett to go up 8-1. James Simmons provided the RBI hit.
Lussier pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings and David Newton worked a perfect ninth.
Stronach gave up seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings for his sixth loss of the year.