The last-place Kannapolis Intimidators continued their success against the first-place Augusta GreenJackets on Friday night with a 6-3 victory in front of 2,684 fans at Lake Olmstead Stadium.
The Intimidators used a five-run fifth inning and the left arm of Clayton Richard to dispatch Augusta for the sixth time in nine meetings this season.
Augusta's lead over Greenville in the Southern Division dropped to 3 games. Kannapolis has beaten Augusta in all three series this season.
The GreenJackets (17-5) had won 11 consecutive games before Kannapolis (7-14) came to town. Augusta travels to Columbus for a four-game set starting today.
Antoan Richardson, Augusta's 5-foot-8, 165-pound center fielder, hit his first home run of the season and second of his two-year pro career with a two-run shot to right in the ninth inning, with the game already out of reach.
Richard pitched seven shutout innings and allowed just six hits to silence an Augusta lineup that notched double-digit runs and hits in Thursday's win.
He beat Augusta's Ryan Shaver, who was hit hard in Kannapolis' big fifth.
Shaver fell to 8-5 and his ERA went from 2.76 - seventh in the league - to 3.19.
The Intimidators got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a walk, a fielder's choice and a RBI single from Aaron Cunningham off Shaver.
The GreenJackets threatened in the bottom of the third when they loaded the bases on a walk to Nick Conte, a single by Ben Copeland and an infield hit by Anthony Contreras.
But with two outs and the sacks full, cleanup hitter Mike Mooney was called out looking at a third strike to end the inning, and his emphatic argument prompted home plate umpire Karl Best to eject the right fielder.
Things got out of hand for Shaver in the fifth.
He gave up six hits - several of them seeing-eye singles just out of reach of his infielders - and five runs, exiting with the score 6-0.
Kannapolis' Eric Mesa, Javier Castillo and Juan Camacho each had RBI in the frame, and Francisco Hernandez drove in a pair with his two-out hit down the right-field line.
David Quinowski relieved Shaver and threw 2q perfect innings.
Augusta scored its only run in the eighth off reliever Brian Omogrosso, who walked Copeland and allowed a RBI hit to left center by David Maroul.
For Kannapolis, Cunningham went 3-for-5, Castillo was 2-for-4 and Hernandez drove in two.
Maroul went 2-for-3, and Ben Copeland and Adalberto Paulino each were 2-for-4.
NOTES: RHP Kelvin Pichardo was called up to Augusta from short-season Salem-Keizer on Friday. Pichardo, 20, was 2-0 with a 4.60 ERA in six games for the Volcanoes.
He played Rookie League ball in the Phillies organization the previous two years.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.