Steven Wright threw six solid innings and earned his team-high eighth win of the year, and Thomas Neal belted a grand slam as the Aeros throttled the Erie SeaWolves, 11-1, in the opener of a seven-game homestand at Canal Park.
Wright (8-6) scattered five hits and worked around four walks to pick up the victory. He struck out six and did not allow a run until the SeaWolves clubbed a pair of doubles in the sixth. Wright matches former Aeros hurler T.J. McFarland with a team-best eight wins. McFarland was 8-2, in 10 starts before being promoted to Triple-A in late May.
With the win, the Aeros remain 8 ½ games ahead of second-place Richmond. The Squirrels took over sole possession of second place with a 1-0 win over Bowie Monday night.
A day after squandering a 3-1 lead in the ninth at Richmond, the Aeros (61-41) scored early and often, and sent the SeaWolves to their fifth straight loss. Every Akron hitter reached base, and seven had at least one hit. The Aeros registered 15 hits overall.
The Aeros took a 2-0 lead in the second off Erie starter Patrick Cooper (2-5). A lead-off walk to Nick Weglarz and a base hit by Juan Diaz placed runners at first and second for Adam Abraham, who lined a single to left that chased home Weglarz for a 1-0 lead. The next hitter, Jordan Henry hit a slow tapper back to Cooper, whose only play was to first. Diaz scored from third on the play to make it 2-0, Aeros.
Abraham, who appeared to turn an ankle at first base after his hit in the second inning, stroked a two-run home run in the fourth off Cooper. It was Abraham's 12th homer of the year. He left the game following the homer. With three RBI's on the night, Abraham took over the team lead with 47.
Roberto Perez chipped in a two-run single in the fifth, to extend the lead to 6-0. The Aeros blew the doors off in the seventh against reliever Mike Morrison. Ryan Rohlinger led off with a solo shot to left, and following two singles and a walk, Neal blasted a grand slam to center, his ninth homer of the year, and the team's third grand slam of the season. Neal's blast made it 11-1.
It was a rare win over the SeaWolves for Akron. The Aeros improved to 7-11 in the season series against their closest EL West rival.
Indians lefty Rafael Perez worked two innings for the Aeros. It was his third minor league rehab appearance with the Aeros and his fourth minor league game overall as he battles back from a strained lat muscle that has kept him out of major league action since April 25th. Perez tossed two scoreless innings, allowing one hit. He threw 26 pitches, 20 of which were strikes.
The Aeros and SeaWolves will play the middle game of the series Tuesday night at 7:05. Erie's starter for game two is RHP Jared Gayhart (1-1, 4.22). LHP Matt Packer (1-0, 0.00) will make the start for Akron.