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Nothing goes right for Suns vs. lefties

July 25, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Delmarva marched past the Hagerstown Suns on Saturday.

It was left, left, left and it knocked the Suns off stride.

That is left, as in left-handed starter Adam Loewen, left as in left-handed reliever Trevor Caughey and then left as in Hagerstown left its offense in the clubhouse, allowing the Shorebirds to walk off with a 4-0 victory before 2,788 fans at Municipal Stadium.

The method was a common one. Hagerstown (10-19, 38-58), which has lost five straight, continued to show an inability to hit left-handed pitching while Delmarva chipped away to build a lead. The Suns' batting average is hovering near .200 against left-handed pitching.

"It was tough. ... We couldn't get anything going," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "We threatened a couple of times early, but we didn't get much action. We got a quality start but didn't swing the bats well. It's more of the same."

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Delmarva pitching held Hagerstown hitless for the last five innings as the Shorebirds faced only two extra batters. Jason Columbus was hit by a pitch in the sixth and Jon Coutlangus drew a walk in the seventh to keep the base paths from becoming completely barren.

Loewen, one of Baltimore's prized pitching prospects, bounced back from allowing eight runs in his last outing against Hagerstown on Monday, holding the Suns to four hits in his five innings. Caughey, who has handled the Suns all season, followed with two hitless innings before right-hander Richard Acosta retired the last six Suns to cap the shutout.

"Loewen had command of his breaking pitch and his change was good tonight," Ramsey said. "(Caughey) gave us trouble. ... He's been doing that to us all season. For the last two seasons, we have had trouble with left-handed pitchers who mix up their pitches and don't exactly light up the gun. That seems to have our number."

Lost in the shuffle was a good outing by Hagerstown starter Juan Serrato (6-6), who suffered a slow, painful loss without the benefit of offensive backing. Serrato allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings while Hagerstown's bats flailed at Loewen.

Delmarva jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second as a throwing error by Johany Abreu on Josh McCurdy's two-out grounder prolonged the inning. Eric Grimm followed with a double to center to drive in the run.

Brain Bock led off the fifth with a double, took third on Bryan Bass' sacrifice bunt and scored on Nate Spears short sacrifice fly to left as the Suns lost out on a disputed play at the plate. Delmarva made it 3-0 and closed the book on Serrato in the sixth when Nick Markakis led off with a single and scored from first on Cory Harris' double to left.

Delmarva got its final run in the eighth off reliever Jesse Floyd as Harris singled and scored on Mike Russell's double.

The Suns threatened against Loewen early with runners on first and third with one out in the first and third innings, but Jason Columbus and Mike Wagner were strikeout victims on each occasion to end the threats.

"Lately we have been hitting the ball well and the pitching hasn't done very well. Tonight it was the opposite," Ramsey said. "We've had that problem all year. If we had got something early, we might have got a spark. It's one of those things. Sometimes it's not how many hits as much as when you get them."

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