Ryan Flaherty capped a four-hit game with a game-winning home run in the eighth inning, powering Norfolk to a 5-4 win over the Charlotte Knights Sunday night at Harbor Park.
Flaherty, who is with the Tides on a Major League rehab assignment after being placed on the disabled list with a bacterial infection, singled in his first three at-bats before belting his tiebreaking homer in the eighth. After starting his rehab assignment 0-for-15, he’s now gone 7-for-10 with two homers, a triple and three RBI over his last three games.
Flaherty’s homer came off of Deunte Heath (4-3) and helped Norfolk snap Charlotte’s season-high eight-game winning streak. It also helped Norfolk wrap up its penultimate homestand with a 4-2 record.
Tides starter Jason Berken turned in a very strong outing as he allowed two runs – one earned – on six hits in 6.2 innings. He retired 11 of 12 at one point and needed just 88 pitches (58 strikes) to navigate his outing.
Berken left in line for the win, but Charlotte plated two runs in the eighth inning off of Brian Matusz to knot the game at 4-4. Matusz, who was making his second-ever professional relief appearance, allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in an inning of work.
Zach Phillips (2-2) recorded the final out of the eighth, then worked a perfect ninth to register the win. 14 of Phillips’ last 17 outings have been scoreless, as he’s posted a 2.86 ERA since June 22.
L.J. Hoes helped Norfolk to an early 4-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third. He now has 12 multi-hit games over his last 21 contests, as he’s batted .415 (34-for-82) with a .494 on-base percentage over that span.
With the win, the Tides gained a game on Lehigh Valley, Columbus and Rochester in the IL Wild Card standings. Norfolk remains 4.0 games back of Pawtucket with 14 regular season games remaining.
The Tides head to Gwinnett Monday to begin their final roadtrip of the season. Zach Clark (4-1, 1.03) will take the hill for Norfolk against right-hander Jair Jurrjens (3-5, 5.10), with first pitch from Coolray Field set for 7:05.