By Josh Cook
Aroldis Chapman got the Louisville Bats off to a blazing start Thursday night.
The highly-touted left-handed pitching prospect threw four pitches over 100 miles per hour in the first inning - including a 103-mph strikeout - and baffled the Gwinnett Braves for five innings as Louisville cruised to a 6-0 win.
Chapman yielded only three hits, while walking one and striking out seven as he improved to 5-2 in nine starts.
The win was the Bats' fifth in six games and their ninth in their last 12.
Chapman got all the run support he would need in the first inning, when Louisville (22-25) scored four runs.
Zack Cozart walked with one out, then back-to-back singles by Yonder Alonso and Wladimir Balentien brought him in to score. Luis Terrero followed Balentien with a three-run home run off Gwinnett starter Jo-Jo Reyes (0-1).
The Bats added another run in the sixth when Balentien led off with a double, then Terrero followed with an RBI-double off Braves reliever Vladimir Nunez.
Louisville added some insurance in the eighth when Todd Frazier singled with two outs, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on Wilkin Castillo's single to center field.
Newcomer Joseph Krebs, who was promoted from Double-A Carolina on Monday, provided two innings of hitless relief for Chapman. Jared Burton pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Federico Baez came on in the ninth and got himself out of a bases-loaded jam.
Terrero led Louisville's 10-hit attack, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs, while Balentien went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
The Bats will battle the Braves (20-26) at 7:05 p.m. Friday night. The first 2,000 fans will receive a free Louisville Bats hat courtesy of Family Allergy & Asthma and WHAS-TV.
In other Bats news:
- Right-hander Sam LeCure, who has been the Bats' best starter this season, has been called up by the Reds and will make his Major League debut Friday night against the Astros. LeCure went 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA in nine starts for the Bats. He recorded 51 strikeouts in 60 hits and is coming off a near-no-hitter (he allowed one hit) against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. LeCure will take Homer Bailey's spot in the rotation.
- Pitcher Matt Klinker was promoted from Carolina after Louisville first baseman Drew Sutton was called-up by the parent Cincinnati Reds. Klinker was 4-3 with a 1.63 earned-run average in nine starts with the Mudcats. The right-hander struck out 53 in 55 1/3 innings.