Six stranded base runners through the first four innings had Augusta GreenJackets manager Lipso Nava worried that the worst losing streak in more than three years would be extended.
“It did cross my mind,” he said.
But the Charleston RiverDogs gave away a one-run lead with a throwing error and a wild pitch in the fifth inning, and GreenJackets right fielder Devin Harris followed with a two-run home run in a 7-1 streak-breaking victory Sunday night at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
“It’s nice to get that monkey off our backs, that’s for sure,” Harris said.
“It’s nice to be able to get some momentum on our side. Hopefully we can put together a few on the winning side now.”
A skid that saw the GreenJackets go from first place to 8½ games out in a span of 15 days finally came to an end thanks to Charleston’s mistakes and Augusta’s ability to take advantage of them.
The GreenJackets entered the night on a six-game losing streak – the longest since the team lost seven in a row during the first month of the 2009 season.
The momentum finally shifted in the fifth inning. RiverDogs starter Bryan Mitchell threw four scoreless innings before falling apart in his third time through the lineup.
He allowed a leadoff single to Kelby Tomlinson, and Nava decided to force the issue.
“That’s when I said we needed to play small ball,” Nava said. “I think the bunt we had with (Jesus) Galindo put some pressure on their defense and that kind of opened the gates for us.”
Galindo’s bunt was fielded by Mitchell and promptly thrown into right field. Tomlinson scored from first, Galindo advanced to third and scored on the next at-bat thanks to one of four Mitchell wild pitches.
With the lead already in hand, Harris put the game out of reach with a two-run blast that easily cleared the left field wall.
Mitchell (7-9) allowed five runs, three earned, on four hits, four walks, four wild pitches, two hit batters and a balk.
“He was handing it to us at first,” Harris said. “But when they started kicking themselves it was good for us to step on their heads and take the win.”
The seven runs, which were twice as many as the GreenJackets had scored in their previous three games combined, were more than enough for Augusta’s Edwin Escobar.
The left-handed starter gave up a run on a Reymond Nunez double in the second inning but otherwise shut out Charleston on seven strikeouts over seven innings.
Escobar (5-7) allowed just three hits and two walks before giving way to Derek Law, who sealed the win with two perfect innings of relief.