PAWTUCKET, R.I. -– Matt Zaleski entered Tuesday’s opener in Pawtucket with a career mark of 0-4 against the PawSox. On Tuesday, he dominated the first place PawSox for seven strong innings.
Zaleski stifled the Pawtucket offense, Hector Gimenez and Drew Garcia homered, and the Charlotte Knights shut out the Pawtucket Red Sox 8-0 on Tuesday in the opening game of their four-game series from McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI. The loss was Pawtucket’s ninth straight.
Pawtucket entered play with the highest team batting average in the International League on the season (.271) –- nearly twenty points higher than Charlotte (.254). That was no problem for Zaleski.
Making his 12th start of the season for first place Charlotte and the 55th of his Knights career, Zaleski (3-2, 4.48) allowed just six hits and three walks over seven scoreless innings en route to his first win since May 31. The Illinois native struck-out four batters and went at least six innings for the fifth time over his last six starts.
In five starts over the past three seasons against Pawtucket, Zaleski was winless. In two starts last season, he went 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA. In 2010, the right-hander went 0-2 with a 3.97 ERA. He also made one start against Pawtucket in 2009 and did not factor in the decision.
On Tuesday, Zaleski set the tone for the night and finally got that elusive win. His offense also had his back.
Charlotte's offense belted out 12 hits. Garcia and Gimenez both homered off of Pawtucket starter Billy Buckner (1-2, 9.26). Buckner allowed eight runs over 4.2 innings and was charged with the loss.
Last season, Garcia compiled a .333 batting average with two home runs and nine RBIs over eight games against the PawSox. On Tuesday, he continued the trend as he went 2-4 with a home run -- his second of the season. Gimenez also added a home run -– his 10th of the season. He finished the game 1-5 with a season-high four RBIs. Conor Jackson also chipped in with three hits.
Relievers Gregory Infante and Donnie Veal combined to shut down the PawSox over the final two innings.
Charlotte and Pawtucket will be back in action on Wednesday in game two. LHP Charlie Leesman will take the mound for Charlotte, while the PawSox will send former Knights pitcher Zach Stewart to the hill. Stewart was traded as part of the Kevin Youkilis deal with Boston on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.