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Suns lose fourth straight

July 12, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

Jeff Landing got in five holes on Tuesday.

That would have been great if he was playing golf. It isn't so great since he was the starting pitcher for the Hagerstown Suns.

Landing allowed the leadoff batter to reach in each of his five innings and German Marte added a sixth occasion to help ignite the Hickory offense and lift the Crawdads to a 7-3 win at Municipal Stadium and send the Suns to their fourth straight loss.

Hickory only cashed in on three of the six occasions, which may not be par for the course, but in baseball, .500 is a great average.

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"The thing about it is that baserunners create holes in the defense," said Suns manager Frank Cacciatore. "They force the first baseman to hold them on or make fielders move in different places. Landing had trouble getting the lead runner out all night."

The Crawdads got on in a variety of ways - two singles, a double, an error and a home run - on Landing's watch. That in itself isn't devastating, but it changed the type of game he could pitch against Hickory and their starter Todd Redmond, who entered the game with a 2.88 ERA, the ninth best in the South Atlantic League.

Still, Landing (5-11) was able to strand seven Crawdads on base despite falling behind 4-0 before the Suns scored three runs in the fifth. Mike McCuistion had three hits and three RBI, including a home run - all against Landing - to lead the way.

"He got himself in trouble in the third and then gave up the leadoff homer, which is going to happen," Cacciatore said. "It was fortunate for us that we weren't down more. They left two on in the second and the bases loaded in the fourth. In reality, we were fortunate not to be down further."

Hickory (7-12, 40-48) took a 3-0 lead in the third, started by Eddie Prasch's leadoff double to left center. After Cameron Blair laid down a sacrifice bunt and Shelby Ford was hit by a pitch, Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI double off the top of the center-field wall and McCuistion added a two-run single to right.

McCuistion blasted a solo homer to right - his sixth of the season - to lead off the fifth.

The Suns followed with their only real rally against Redmond, who stayed in total control with his breaking pitches for eight innings.

"(Getting the runners on) takes away from what we can do," Cacciatore said. "We got down three, and then four, and needed a crooked number to come back. We got that."

The Suns (7-11, 35-53) pieced together a rally that began with Leivi Ventura being hit by a pitch. With two outs, Jesus Gamero, Will Vogl and Jose Castro hit consecutive singles to make the score 4-3. Gamero got an RBI and Castro collected two when right fielder Brad Corley made a diving try, but the ball squirted out of his glove, allowing Vogl to score from first.

Marte got in trouble in the eighth when Ventura threw away an odd-hop grounder for an error. Prasch took advantage of a hole with a hit-and-run single through short before Blair's sacrifice fly and a two-run homer by Ford.

Redmond (7-5) held the Suns to the three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out six.

"We don't have a lot of guys that we can sit back and wait for a three-run homer from," Cacciatore said. "We need four hits to get two or three runs. That's our style. His breaking pitch was getting us to swing at things out of the zone and that sets up for other things."

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