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Parnell's start is a keeper for Suns

July 07, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Even though Bobby Parnell is more of a pitcher than an outdoorsman, he still got with the catch-and-release program on Thursday.

The Hagerstown Suns starter caught the ball from catcher Drew Butera and then found his most effective release point to send it back to him.

It all allowed Parnell to reel in the big one as he handcuffed the Lakewood BlueClaws on two runs and five hits over seven innings to pace Hagerstown to an 8-2 victory before 2,614 thirst-quenched fans at Municipal Stadium as the Suns reached .500 for the second half.

Despite the strong outing against Lakewood's Carlos Carrasco - who has been a menace for the Suns (35-49, 7-7) all season - Parnell wouldn't take credit for putting the first-place BlueClaws on a wildlife reserve.

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"They had an off night," Parnell deadpanned. "They just didn't come out hitting like they did the last time. They had an off night and it came out well for me."

The memories of last Saturday's 9-5 loss to Carrasco and the BlueClaws (47-37, 10-5) were still fresh.

Parnell allowed eight runs on nine hits in three innings in the first game of a doubleheader.

Parnell (3-6) had problems with his release, as many of his pitches came in high in the strike zone and were put into play.

"I didn't have very good stuff against them the last time out and they hit the ball," he said.

On Thursday, he was in command.

Parnell, the New York Mets' ninth pick in the 2005 draft, issued just one walk, while three of the five hits he allowed were of the infield variety. His only mistake was a two-run homer to Jeremy Slayden in the seventh after Clay Harris drew a leadoff walk.

"He got the ball down ... that was the whole difference (from the last game against Lakewood)," said Suns manager Frank Cacciatore. "He worked ahead in the count and kept the ball in the zone. His pitches have good life on them. That's a good hitting team. If you get sloppy, you get in trouble."

Parnell got support from the ever-improving Suns offense. Nick Evans went 4-for-4 with three RBI while Jesus Gamero homered and Will Vogl added a key two-run double in the fourth as the Suns built a 5-0 lead through six innings.

"It's nice to get hits and runs," Parnell said. "It makes things go better. The last time, I gave up the early runs and it made things a lot tougher. Today, I got them."

Evans, Gamero and Vogl reaped the benefits of the work at the top of the batting order. Leadoff hitter Jose Castro worked Carrasco for two walks. He was also hit by a 3-2 pitch and once reached when second baseman Avelino Asprilla bobbled a grounder off a 3-2 pitch later in the game.

Carrasco left after four innings. The right-hander, who will be pitching in this weekend's Futures Game, was 3-0 in four starts against the Suns with a 3.20 ERA.

"Castro was disciplined at the plate tonight," Cacciatore said. "He was seeing more pitches and working deep in the counts. I think it may have frustrated Carrasco a bit because we weren't swinging at breaking pitches out of the zone. Evans and Gamero did a good job taking advantage of it."

The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the second on Gamero's leadoff home run off the top of the inner-right-field fence. Vogl made it 3-0 with a two-out, two-run double to left center in the fourth.

Hagerstown greeted reliever Bill Kirk with two runs when Castro was hit by the pitch and Leivi Ventura and Evans ripped back-to-back doubles.

After Slayden's homer in the top of the seventh, the Suns answered with three runs on a two-run single by Evans and a sacrifice fly by Matt Anderson.

Brandon Nall relieved Parnell and retired six of the seven BlueClaws he faced to nail down the victory.

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