MOOSIC — A large crowd gathered at PNC Field on Friday night to see Curtis Granderson.
The 6,011 fans certainly got their money’s worth. New York’s rehabbing outfielder crushed a game-winning, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, lifting Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to a 5-3 win over Gwinnett.
Granderson, who had just one hit and didn’t get anything out of the infield in his previous seven at bats in two games with the RailRiders, crushed a 3-1 pitch from Gwinnett right-hander Andrew Russell and deposited it over the wall in left-center as heavy rains blasted the field the last three innings.
Granderson, who had the 3-0 green light in the at-bat , finished the game 1-for-5 with three groundouts and a strikeout. He also played eight innings in left field a day after playing in right.
“The big thing is I was able to put a good swing on it and get the ball out of the infield for the first time,” Granderson said. “It ended up going out. I didn’t think it was and it ended up helping us win the ball game.”
The RailRiders snapped a two-game losing streak and handed the Braves their 13th loss in a row, their longest streak since dropping 15 in a row last June.
When the game started though it appeared that the Braves would be in cruise control to break the losing streak. RailRiders’ starter Chris Bootcheck, entered the game with the best ERA in the International League with 0.60 allowing just two runs in 30 innings, gave up more than that in the first inning.
He was the recipient of some perfectly placed hits. Tyler Pastornicky hit a bloop single to right. Alden Carrithers followed with a bunt single in between the mound and first base. That set up a booming home run to right field by Joey Terdoslavich, his seventh of the season to give the Braves a quick 3-0 lead before an out was recorded.
“The first batter I thought I made a pretty good pitch two strikes but I wasn’t going to sneak another fastball by him after that point,” Bootcheck said. “That’s probably my fault on the bunt. We practice that. I should’ve yelled to (first baseman) Dave (Adams) that I had it. Then I tried to flip it to him and it was a bang-bang play. Just one of those things that happens.”
After allowing the home run, though, Bootcheck pitched like he has to date, facing the minimum number of batters through the fifth. He did allow baserunners in that stretch, but a walk turned into a double play. And even after Ernesto Mejia doubled, he was picked off.
A single allowed to Terdoslavich in the top of the sixth wasn’t erased, but Bootcheck still faced just 19 batters after the first three hitters of the game by Gwinnett reached in the game facing just one over the minimum in that time.
Terdoslavich then made one of the plays of the game in the bottom of the first when the RailRiders strung together four hits. But they were held scoreless in the frame because the right fielder nailed Zoilo Almonte at the plate trying to score from second on a single by Dan Johnson with two outs.
After having several opportunities in the first three innings, the RailRiders finally came through in the bottom of the fourth taking advantage of three hits in the inning. Zoilo Almonte had a two-out single driving in two to even the score at 3-3. Addison Maruszak nailed a run-scoring double for the team’s first run.