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Mistakes cost Suns another close game

August 04, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

In close games, mistakes are like big shadows.

The Hagerstown Suns had trouble finding their way out of the darkness Friday.

A pair of late-inning pitching mistakes turned into runs and proved to be the difference for Greenville in a 3-1 win over the Suns.

An eighth-inning leadoff walk to Reid Engle and Chih-Hsien Chiang's reaching on a wild pitch on a strikeout to start the ninth led the Drive to their second and third runs.

It was more than enough to stop the Suns (13-28, 42-66), who only managed three hits and struck out 11 times against a quartet of Greenville pitchers.

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"It's funny," said Suns manager Tommy Herr, even though he wasn't laughing. "They score one off a bunch of hits off (starting pitcher Zach Baldwin), then a leadoff walk leads to a run. Then, the first guy in the ninth reaches on a wild pitch off a strikeout. That's tough, but you can't stand for that in a close game."

And those are the little gaffes that magnify in a close game, which is the style of play the Suns have become forced to play.

Greenville took a 1-0 lead in the seventh to break up a pitchers' duel between Baldwin and Drive starter Ryan Phillips.

Baldwin gave up singles to Paul Smyth and Jason Price to start the seventh. After Chiang reached on a fielder's choice bunt, Manny Arambarris singled to load the bases and end Baldwin's night.

Greenville manager Gabe Kapler opted for pinch-hitter Lars Anderson, who hit a sacrifice fly to deep left off Suns reliever Yader Peralta for a 1-0 lead.

"They ended up getting a couple of hits off Baldwin and his pitch count was up to a point where we couldn't leave him out there," Herr said. "It's too bad because he had a chance to get out of that situation because he throws a lot of double-play balls."

Engle drew a walk off Peralta to lead off the eighth, but left the game after injuring an ankle on his slide while stealing second. One out later, Jon Still singled to center to bring home pinch-runner Kris Negron with the second run.

The Drive capped it in the ninth inning when Chiang reached after swinging through Colby Mavroulis' wild pitch. He came around to score on consecutive two-out singles by Argenis Diaz and Negron for a 3-0 lead.

The Suns broke through and were within one swing of tying the game in the ninth against Greenville reliever Chris Jones. Robby Jacobsen drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Marcos Cabral's hit-and-run single to right.

Jacobsen created the run by dancing off third base to force Jones to balk. But Jones struck out Leonard Davis and got Joe Napoli to ground to third before giving way to Joshua Papelbon, who struck out Tony Blanco - who joined the Suns on Friday - to end the game.

Baldwin (2-3) allowed one run on seven hits in his 6 2/3 innings, but Phillips baffled the Suns by going seven innings while allowing two hits and striking out eight.

"We couldn't solve the left-hander and their relievers did a nice job," Herr said. "In games like that, you can't afford to give up anything."

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