After losing four straight to the resurgent Red Sox, the prospect of a fifth straight loss seemed quite possible as the P-Nats fell behind 5-1 after five and a half innings.
Matthew Spann had started but struggled through four innings, giving up three runs on a 2nd-inning HR and three hits total. He walked three and struck out three. Kylin Turnbull followed but was touched for single runs in the 5th and and 6th innings.
Then came the bottom of the 6th, in which Potomac jumped on the Carolina bullpen for five runs, having been stifled by Joe “I got my Dad’s 1970s haircut” Clevinger for five innings.
Isaac Ballou got things going with a leadoff walk. Tony Renda lined one into right, with Ballou taking third with no hesitation. Shawn Pleffner lifted a high fly to center that Renda judged would not be caught, enabling him to score all the way from first on the double.
A grounder to second pushed the big man to third while Stephen Perez laced one up the middle to plate Pleffner and send Clayton Cook to the bench in favor of Michael Peoples.
The power was not with Peoples but with John Wooten, who clubbed his second homer for the P-Nats to give them a 6-5 lead and atone for his sixth error that let the fourth Mudcat run score in the 5th.
Travis Henke, who’s often called upon when the game’s not on the line, responded to the pressure situation with two scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th, walking one and striking out three to earn his team-leading fifth hold.
Henke gave way to Gilberto Mendez in the 9th. Facing the heart of the Carolina lineup, Mendez mowed ’em down in order — flyout, strikeout, groundout — to earn his 10th save in 12 chances.
The win, combined with a Lynchburg loss, puts Potomac back up a game in the Carolina League North while Carolina sinks to third place in the C.L. South, a half-game behind Salem which won its sixth straight.
The series continues tonight with Ian Dickson (3-8, 5.16) taking the hill against D.J. Brown (2-6, 4.57).