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Suns fall flat, Butto sharp for Lakewood

May 29, 2003|By TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

Returning home from a successful road trip, the Hagerstown Suns were flatter than a tire without a rim on Wednesday night in front of a disappointing Municipal Stadium crowd.

Some of the problems were due in part to Francisco Butto, who led Lakewood to a 4-1 win over the Suns, snapping their six-game winning streak.

The 21-year-old Venezuelan tossed no-hit ball for five innings before surrendering a run in the seventh, the first he has allowed the Suns to score against him in 12 innings this year as he posted his fifth win in seven decisions. On April 15, Butto stifled the Suns on two hits through five shutout innings.

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The Suns (27-23) had won 10 of 11 entering the game to move into second place in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division. Conversely, the BlueClaws (19-33) were last in the division.

"We were flat, no doubt," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We're happy what we have accomplished to get where we are, but we have to play with the same attitude every game, every night, no matter who it is."

Except for hitting Karl Jernigan in the first inning, Butto was in control, using his fastball and changeup. Through the first six innings he induced 12 groundouts.

Brian Munhall broke up the no-hit bid with one out in the sixth on a clean liner to left.

"I know some of the (Suns) and their tendencies," Butto said while icing his arm. "My fastball was sliding off the plate and the changeup was getting them to hit the ball in the ground."

Butto challenged Suns batters with a consistent 92-93 mph fastball.

Hagerstown's Clay Hensley (3-2) matched Butto through the first three innings before Mark McRoberts followed a walk to Jeremy Isenhower with a towering home run to right.

Hensley was getting the ball up in the zone but managed to wiggle out of further problems before McRoberts dazzled the onlookers with a blast high off the wall slightly to the left of dead center field for his ninth four-bagger of the year.

"Clay just started getting the ball up high and he started thinking about his pitches after the first home run," Ramsey said. "But really, I thought he pitched well for six innings.

The Suns, held to a single run for the first time since May 2, managed to threaten in the seventh off Butto on back-to-back singles by Jernigan and Derin McMains.

After Carlos Sosa struck out, Jason Columbus knocked a 1-2 pitch into right for a hit to score Jernigan, but Travis Ishikawa bounced into a double play to thwart the rally.

Despite the loss, Ramsey was still positive overall with recent results.

"We've climbed four or five spots in the standings to get into a positive position," he said. "We have to get a good effort every night."

The Suns, still with four games against Delmarva and eight against Lake County left - including four on the current homestand after tonight's game against Lakewood - have 20 games remaining in the first half.

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