Gunkel deals ‘Cakes to win over Aces

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METAIRIE – Joe Gunkel continued his solid second half by pitching into the eighth inning, and the New Orleans Baby Cakes beat the Reno Aces on Thursday night, 6-3.

Since returning to the starting rotation on June 21 after spending nearly two months on the injured list, Gunkel owns a 3.26 ERA, second-best in the Pacific Coast League in that span. The right-hander gave up just three baserunners in blanking Reno over the first five innings on Thursday, and won for the fourth time in his last five starts.

Gunkel (5-1) worked a season-high 7 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. Kyle Keller and Brett Graves combined to strike out three of the game’s final five batters to nail down the Baby Cakes’ sixth victory in seven tries in August.

The ‘Cakes provided him a lead just two batters into the game, after Jesus Sanchez led off with a single and Eddy Alvarez homered for the second time in as many nights. Alvarez also singled and scored in the third inning and is batting .422 over his last 11 contests.

New Orleans stretched its lead to 4-0 in the fourth when Sanchez delivered a two-out RBI single.

Home runs by Joshua Rojas leading off the sixth and Andy Young leading off the seventh sandwiched Tyler Heinieman’s solo blast in the bottom of the sixth, and Heineman added an insurance tally in the eighth inning by drawing a walk and scoring on Gabriel Guerrero’s double play grounder.

Riley Smith (2-1) took the loss for Reno after yielding five runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

The ‘Cakes and Aces play the rubber match of the three-game set on Friday at 7 p.m.

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