Toby Gardenhire couldn’t have drawn it up any better for his ballclub. After back-to-back blowouts, forced to use three position players on the mound, he got length from his starter, solid relief, and production up and down the lineup. The St. Paul Saints washed the bad taste out of their mouth from the last two days with an 11-5 thumping of the Gwinnett Stripers on Friday night at CHS Field in front of 8,168.

Saints starter Adam Plutko gave the staff the shot in the arm they needed. His only major blip came in the second. Five straight two out hits rewarded the Stripers with three runs in the second. With two outs and nobody on Luke Waddell singled to left. Luis Liberato doubled to right-center sending Waddell to third. Andrew Velazquez made it 2-0 with a two-run single to center. Nacho Alvarez reached on an infield single to third and Drake Balwin increased the lead to 3-0 with an RBI single to right.

In the bottom of the inning the Saints tied the game. Diego Castillo reached on a one out infield single to third. That was followed by Chris Williams getting hit by a pitch. With two outs Payton Eeles walked to load the bases. Anthony Prato unloaded the bases with a sinking liner to right that Luis Liberato tried to make a sliding catch on but came up empty as the ball got by him for a triple tying the game at three.

With one out in the third Eddie Rosario tripled to right and two batters later scored on a sacrifice fly from Waddell giving the Stripers a 4-3 lead. Pluto would go 6.0 innings allowing four runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four.

From there it was all Saints and Chris Williams. He knotted the game at four in the fourth with a solo homer to right, his first of the night and seventh of the season.

For the first time since Tuesday night, the Saints grabbed the lead in the fifth. The first three hitters loaded the bases on an Edouard Julien walk, and back-to-back singles from Yunior Severino and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. After Jair Camargo grounded into a double play where they got the out at home and at first, Castillo walked to load the bases. Williams banged a two-run single into left putting the Saints up 6-4.

The Saints added to their lead in the sixth when Prato walked, stole second and scored on a single to left by Julien making it 7-4.

Williams came calling again in the seventh with a solo homer to left, his second of the night and eighth of the season, increasing the lead to 8-4. Williams finished the night 3-3 with two home runs, four RBI and three runs scored.

The Saints added insurance in the eighth courtesy of Julien. Payton Eeles led off the inning with a hit by pitch and Prato walked. Julien then crushed a three-run homer to right, his third of the season, putting away the game for the Saints at 11-4. He finished the night 2-4 with a home run, four RBI, and a run scored.

The Stripers would get one last run in the ninth on a solo homer by Velazquez, his 10th of the season, making it 10-5.

The same two teams meet in game five of a six-game series at CHS Field at 6:37 p.m. on Saturday.

(info courtesy of Saints)

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