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Suns' brains picked in loss

August 23, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns' game on Saturday could be classified as an oxymoron.

The Suns dropped a 9-3 decision to the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs because of thinking too much and concentrating too little.

On the physical side of the game, Charleston blew open the game with a five-run fifth inning, keyed by Rafael Guerrero's three-run double, to end the Suns' four-game winning streak.

--cont. from sports page--

Hagerstown's loss, coupled with a win by Delmarva, left the Suns (33-30, 77-56 overall) two games behind the Shorebirds in the South Atlantic League Northern Division's second-half race with nine games remaining.

Charleston (31-32, 62-71) took care of business by taking advantage of Hagerstown starter Leoncio Estrella's problem with his mechanics and a couple of Suns defensive lapses.

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"It was just one of those games that happen from time to time," Suns manager Marty Pevey said. "The main thing that concerned me is that we have to keep our concentration on the field, even when we're behind. We made too many mental mistakes.

"Estrella struggled when he was pitching. We went out there thinking too much and you just can't do that. You have to do all your thinking during your off days on the sidelines."

Estrella, who came to the Suns before the major league trading deadline in Toronto's deal of Tony Phillips to the New York Mets, is in the process of learning the Blue Jays' style of pitching and hasn't looked fluid in his two Municipal Stadium starts.

The RiverDogs led 4-1 after four innings on single runs in the second and third inning and a two-run fourth, thanks to Jack Jeffrion's double. Hagerstown countered with Lorenzo Bagley's solo homer in the fourth.

Estrella's biggest problems cropped up in the fifth, after allowing a one-out walk to Toby Hall. Aubrey Huff grounded to shortstop Cesar Izturis, who misplayed the ball while looking to start a double play. It lead to Jose Velazquez's two-run, bases-loaded single to chase Estrella.

Tim Huff came on in relief and walked Scott Neuberger before Guerrero's base-clearing double.

"You can't assume double plays, but at the point where Izturis bobbles that ball, that hurt," Pevey said. "If he gets the double play, we're out of the inning without giving up a run and down, 4-2. Still, it's hard to look at it that way, especially with the way he's been turning double plays lately."

The Suns got single runs in the fifth on Mike Young's RBI groundout and run-scoring double in the seventh. Tom Howard (3-4), the second of four Charleston pitchers, got the win.

Huff gave the Suns 4 2/3 innings of relief, allowing one run on five hits.

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