Allentown, PA – Henry Owens delivered seven innings of one-run ball and Chris Marrero continued to flourish at Coca-Cola Park, as the Pawtucket Red Sox upended the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 5-1, in the opener of a crucial three-game series on Monday night.
Owens (8-6) surrendered five hits and a season-low one walk. He struck out six in his 98-pitch outing.
Owens has sported a 1.57 ERA with 29 strikeouts over his last four starts dating to July 26.
In support of the lefthander, Marrero went 3-for-5 with an RBI single, a double and a home run. In five games in Allentown this season, Marrero has gone 14-for-21 with five doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI. Thus, his average at Coca-Cola Park fell from .688 to .667.
The PawSox (65-57) opened the scoring with a run in the second inning against Lehigh Valley starter David Buchanan (8-8).
Christian Vazquez led off the frame with a walk, advanced to second base on an Allen Craig single, moved to third base on a double play and scored on a ball that got by third baseman Darnell Sweeney for an error.
Marrero obliterated his league lead-tying 23rd round-tripper of the season in the third inning to double Pawtucket’s lead to 2-0.
Owens issued his lone walk to Jesmuel Valentin leading off the bottom of the third. Valentin came around to score the IronPigs’ only run on Darin Ruf’s line-drive single into left field.
Vazquez picked off Emmanuel Burriss at third base to the frame and keep the PawSox in front.
Pawtucket scored for the third straight inning in the fourth when Jantzen Witte lined a double to right field and scored on a two-out single from Rusney Castillo.
Owens retired nine of 10 batters over the next three frames, maintaining the 3-1 PawSox lead through six innings.
Jose Vinico led off the seventh inning with a double and scored when the rehabbing Chris Young lined a double to the wall in left field.
Young played seven innings as the designated hitter, going 1-for-4 with the RBI double and two strikeouts at the plate. He is 2-for-9 with two identical doubles in the first three games of his rehabilitation assignment.
Young scored the final Pawtucket run of the game on Marrero’s groundball single into right field that completed the seventh-inning rally.
Owens hit the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, but picked up three straight outs to complete his outing.
Owens pitched more than six innings on fewer than 100 pitches for the first time this season. In fact, after averaging 19 pitches per inning in his previous four starts, he averaged 14 pitches per frame on Monday.
He combined with reliever Chandler Shepherd to hold Lehigh Valley (72-50) out of the hit column for the fifth through eighth innings.
Joe Kelly allowed a leadoff single in the ninth but then struck out Andrew Knapp and induced a 4-6-3 double-play groundball from Brock Stassi to end the game.
The PawSox pulled to within seven games of the IronPigs in the International League Wild Card race.
Pawtucket also improved to 14-6 in its last 20 games and 5-1 at Coca-Cola Park this season.
The PawSox continue their season-long 10-game road trip and their three-game series with Lehigh Valley tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. Pawtucket lefthander Brian Johnson (5-4, 4.14) is scheduled to make the start against IronPigs lefty Anthony Vasquez (3-0, 3.02). Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox radio network begins at 6:35 p.m.
Pawtucket returns home for a four-game homestand on Monday. Good seats for those contests against the Syracuse Chiefs and Lehigh Valley are still available at the McCoy Stadium box office; call (401) 724-7300 or visit pawsox.com to get your tickets today.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.