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Danks powers Knights past Braves in openers

It wasn't quite two weeks ago when Charlotte Knights center fielder Jordan Danks was playing in an exhibition game with the big league team, the Chicago White Sox, in Atlanta. His older brother, John, was on the mound for Chicago.

The younger Danks made a catch to save a run for his big brother. Later in the game Jordan scored a run in support of John.

The Danks brother will be reunited in Chicago sometime this season.

Jordan, the White Sox No. 5 prospect in Baseball America's rankings, was with the Charlotte Knights. He hit his second home run of the season to lead off the fourth inning to give his team a 1-0 lead over the Gwinnett Braves.

The Knights went on to win the game 2-1 in front of a crowd of 4,112 in their 2010 home opener.

"Wardo (Knights hitting coach Gary Ward) said not to let the short walls here mess us up," Danks said. "He told us to keep your normal swing."

Danks hit nine home runs in his first pro season. He'll hit more this year. He crushed a 2-2 offering, a slider, from Gwinnett starter Todd Redmond (1-1) to deep right field.

One out later Josh Kroeger laced a liner down the right field line. Braves outfielder Brent Clevlen dove and the ball bounced off his glove into foul territory. Kroeger legged out a triple and came home when the relay throw to third base was wild.

Danks said he "stung" a couple balls in the three-game series at Norfolk before coming back to Charlotte. The ball didn't carry well at Harbor Park.

"He's got a nice quick bat," Knights manager Chris Chambliss said. "We'd like to see him use the whole field but down here we'll just let him play ball and take it one day at a time. I don't think the White Sox will rush him to the big leagues. They have four pretty good outfielders up there."

Chambliss thought about that statement for a split second and added, "It's hard to predict. You saw how quick (Gordon) Beckham got up there."

Jeff Marquez (1-1) scattered five hits, walked two and struck out three. Scott Elarton and Greg Aquino pitched two innings each to finish the game. Aquino earned his first save.

Marquez had season-ending elbow surgery last year.

Elarton came on to start the sixth inning. The 6-foot-8 right-hander joined the team earlier in the day. He spent time in the major leagues with Houston, Colorado, Cleveland and Kansas City.

Aquino retired the side in order in the eighth. Clevlen led off the ninth with a double to the gap in left-center. Joe Thurston reached on a bunt single that advanced Clevlen to third base. After Brandon Hicks flew out to shallow left, designated hitter J.C. Holt broke up the shutout with a groundout to plate Clevlen.

J.C. Boscan grounded out to Brent Lillibridge at shortstop to end the game with the tying run at second base.

To make room for Elarton, The White Sox sent pitcher Justin Cassel to Double A Birmingham.

Gwinnett (2-6) threatened in the second and fifth innings.

The Braves put two runners on with one out in the second. Joe Thurston singled and Brandon Hicks was hit by a pitch. Holt singled sharply to Knights' left fielder Alejandro De Aza who fielded the ball and easily threw out Thurston who was trying to score from second base.

The Braves loaded the bases in the fifth but came up empty when Freddie Freeman grounded out to end the inning.

The same teams play at 7:15 p.m. today at Knights Stadium. Charlotte (5-3) will go with starting pitcher Matt Zaleski (1-0, 1.50 ERA) against Gwinnett's Ryne Reynoso (0-1, 5.40).