PAWTUCKET â€“ Follow the trail of pixie dust and it will lead you directly to the home clubhouse at McCoy Stadium.
The good times continued at the ballpark Monday night as the PawSox staged a 2-1 walk-off win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Pawtucket trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth before receiving a game-tying sacrifice fly from catcher Ryan Lavarnway and a game-ending RBI single by Mark Hamilton that came on a 3-2 pitch.
Now winners of 14 of their last 16 ballgames, the PawSox were able to reduce their magic number to clinch the I.L. North to five games. It could be even lower as second-place Rochester trailed 12-3 in the sixth inning as this paperâ€™s deadline approached.
The real story on the night was starting pitcher Allen Webster. The right-hander compiled the second longest outing of his career â€“ eight innings of one-run ball on two hits. The only mistake Webster made came in the first inning when the second batter of the game, Corey Patterson, deposited a ball into the right-field picnic area for a home run.
â€śFrom the first inning on, myself and Lavarnway were on the same page. Thatâ€™s all you can ask for,â€ť said Webster.
Webster struck out five and walked three. He did hit his 16th batter of the season.
Said PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina, â€śThat was an incredible performance. When you throw like that, youâ€™re going to get a lot of guys out.â€ť
Scrantonâ€™s Brett Marshall was able to stymie the PawSox batters to the tune of seven shutout innings that included nine strikeouts.
Pawtucketâ€™s rally in the ninth began with No. 9 hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker drawing a four-pitch walk. After a fake bunt attempt, Jackie Bradley Jr. lined a shot into the left-field corner for a double that placed two PawSox runners in scoring position with no outs. (Bradley ended up with three of Pawtucketâ€™s hits with Hamilton collecting the other.)
Brock Holt followed Bradley with a hit by pitch that loaded the bases with no outs. Lavarnway worked the count to 3-2 before lifting a fly ball to right field to score Hazelbaker with the tying run. Hamilton made sure that no extra innings would be played on this night as the outfielder turned on a Jim Miller pitch and lined it into right.
The win went to Jose De La Torre, who tossed a scoreless ninth inning.
Alex Wilson took a significant step forward Monday, throwing a 25-pitch bullpen that featured his entire repertoire. The right-hander hasnâ€™t been appeared in a game since Aug. 5 at Buffalo and has been on Bostonâ€™s disabled list since July 9 with a right thumb sprain.
â€śI got what I expected out of it. I was a little rusty â€¦ first time off the mound in two weeks,â€ť said Wilson. â€śPain-wise, it was tolerable where I think we can build on it. This was a step in the right direction.â€ť
Moving forward, Wilson doesnâ€™t know what the next step will entail. How he reacts to Mondayâ€™s session figures to play a key role. Keep in mind that his rehab clock is set to expire this Friday.
â€śWeâ€™ll treat (the thumb) as much as possible and hopefully it recovers quicker than what was going on earlier,â€ť Wilson said.
Added DiSarcina, â€śHeâ€™s getting close to throwing at least one inning. I just donâ€™t know when it will be.â€ť
EXTRA BASES: One night after hitting a home run in his first game with the PawSox in roughly seven weeks, Bryce Brentz served as the teamâ€™s designated hitter Monday night. According to DiSarcina, Brentz will get two days off between now and when the regular season ends next Monday. â€śWe want to manage his playing time so he doesnâ€™t re-injure his (right knee) or hurt the other leg,â€ť said DiSarcina. â€śWhat heâ€™s done is pretty impressive as far as coming back and being ready to play.â€ť â€¦ With Brentz in the DH spot and Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate, Dan Butler and his 14 home runs spent Monday night on the bench. â€śFor me, Butler has had a ton of at-bats, so he can have an extra day off,â€ť said DiSarcina. â€śWe miss having Danâ€™s bat in there, but itâ€™s good to get him an extra blow because heâ€™s been going hard for a long time.â€ť â€¦ Brandon Snyder was at McCoy Stadium for the second straight day, taking groundballs and on-field batting practice. DiSarcina said that the injured infielder â€“ Snyder has been on Bostonâ€™s DL with an elbow injury since Aug. 10 â€“ will go through the same routine again on Tuesday with the hope that heâ€™s cleared to begin a rehab assignment not too long after. â€¦ Itâ€™s worth noting that Anthony Ranaudo is listed as Pawtucketâ€™s probable pitcher for Friday night, the same night when Clay Buchholz is scheduled to make his second rehab start. â€¦ The final game of the seven-game â€śhome and homeâ€ť set with Scranton takes place tonight at McCoy with Steven Wright in search of his eighth win. The knuckleballer will be opposed by Danny Rosenbaum (7-10, 3.78). The first 3,000 fans 14 & under will receive a PawSox football.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03