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Benavidez, Suns get best of deal

July 01, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Julian Benavidez gave up two to get two on Monday.

It sounds like an even deal, but at baseball's rate of exchange, the Hagerstown Suns first baseman came out way ahead.

Benavidez bounced back from a first-inning double play by grounding a two-run single to right in Hagerstown's three-run second inning to pace the Suns to a 5-3 victory over the Lexington Legends.

"I try to get rid of what happened by the next at-bat and not dwell on the time before," Benavidez said. "The first time up, I might have rolled my wrists a bit."

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Benavidez, a recent addition to the Suns' roster, should be thankful for the short memory. But, from the first swing, he seemed to have Lexington starter Jailen Peguero measured.

Benavidez hit a hot shot to Lexington third baseman Ryan Kochen with runners on first and second for a rally-draining double play. He got some quick redemption in the second, though, with his single past Kochen to give Hagerstown a 4-0 lead.

It was enough early support for Josh Habel, who was making a spot start in place of Matt Cain. Habel allowed one run on one hit - a disputed home run to Wilner Alvarez in the third - while striking out five in five innings.

"We started like we were going to blow things open early," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "But (Peguero) found his rhythm and kept things close and they got back into it. Benavidez gave us some quality at-bats and he's good to see in RBI situations. Habel does a good job for us in every role we use him."

Cain missed his start because of a tender elbow, opening the door for Habel, who has worked from every spot on the Suns' pitching staff.

"He threw a lot of pitches early, but he got through five innings," Ramsey said. "Every spot start he's had, he's done a good job. When we start him, we weaken our bullpen, but I will take my chances with Habel every time."

The Suns (40-36, 6-4) had a chance to blow open the game in the first after Fred Lewis led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Jake Wald's RBI single. After Carlos Sosa walked, Benavidez hit into a double play. The Suns reloaded the bases but only managed the 1-0 lead.

Karl Jernigan and Mikey Miranda led off the second with singles and Lewis walked to load the bases. Sosa grounded to first for one run and Benavidez's single plated two more for the 4-0 lead.

Alvarez led off Lexington's third with a drive down the left-field line that was ruled to have curled around the foul pole for a home run. The Suns argued the call, which eventually led to the ejection of Hagerstown hitting coach Willie Aviles.

The Legends added two runs off reliever Troy Ransom, starting with a Kochen single that hopped over third baseman Kevin Kelly's glove. Justin Humphries' single and John Fagan's sacrifice fly drove in the runs.

The Suns got a big insurance run in the seventh off reliever Billy Westoff as Wald led off with a walk and scored on Sosa's double down the left-field line. Ramsey turned the ball over to closer Matt Palmer, who came in for a two-inning save, his 17th.

Before the game, the Suns announced pitcher Ben Washburn was promoted to Single-A San Jose. In return, Hagerstown received third baseman Brian Buscher, who just finished playing for the University of South Carolina in the College World Series.

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