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Suns' streak ends at seven

July 28, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

It took three relief pitchers to end Hagerstown's seven-game win streak Thursday at Municipal Stadium.

Kannapolis manager Omer Munoz gave Jason Rice a spot start and followed with two more effective hurlers as the Intimidators went on to stop the Suns 4-0 and keep Hagerstown from a second straight four-game sweep of an opponent.

"We won a road trip, swept a team, so there's nothing to complain about," said Suns manager Frank Cacciatore.

Rice kept the Suns, now 15-18 in the South Atlantic League second half, off the scoreboard, allowing just three hits. Brian Omogrosso followed with three perfect innings and Paul Moviel finished with two scoreless frames.

"I tip my cap to their pitching tonight," said Cacciatore.

Waner Mateo, who stepped into the Suns' rotation when Jeff Landing went on the disabled list, went the first five innings with Kannapolis posting two-spots in the first and fifth innings.

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Paulo Orlando walked leading off the game, moved to second on Aaron Cunningham's sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored when Fernando Valenzuela Jr. delivered a sacrifice fly, giving the Intimidators their first lead since the first inning of the first game of the series Monday.

Catcher Brent Matheny then roped a drive to center field for his first home run of the year to put the Suns down, 2-0.

Two errors by shortstop Jose Castro led to a pair of unearned runs off Mateo in the fifth. With two out and runners at second and third, Cunningham made the Suns pay for the miscues when he rocked a two-run double.

"(Jose) made a nice play on one of the balls and was just looking to make a backdoor throw and it didn't work out," said Cacciatore. "He's been aggressive all year and made great plays."

The Suns had two scoring opportunities early against Rice.

A leadoff single in the second by Nick Evans and a one-out walk to Hector Pellot gave the Suns two baserunners. Even after Drew Butera flied out, the Suns had their hottest bat coming to the plate.

Jesus Gamero, with 10 RBI in the series, smashed a liner that was destined for center field, but Rice stuck out his glove and snared the shot that would have scored Evans.

"(Gamero) had a good at-bat and if we score there, who knows?" said Cacciatore.

In the third, Fernando Martinez and Castro had back-to-back one-out singles and Jonel Pacheco walked to fill the bases. But Evans, who leads the team in five offensive categories, bounced into a 4-6-3 double play - a category in which Evans also leads the Suns.

During the winning streak, Hagerstown averaged 6.4 runs and 10.6 hits a game, while the pitching fashioned a 0.73 earned run average.

"Those were keys in the streak, our pitching and getting key hits, especially in the Lexington series," said Cacciatore. "Whenever we play well, it's because of our pitching."

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